Elevator to be installed at R-H

Published 11:16 am Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) administration and school board members have been working together and planning since last fall to purchase an elevator for Randolph-Henry High School.

According to CCPS Superintendent Robbie Mason the bare minimum “no bells and whistles” elevator is estimated to cost $167,000 of which includes the elevator and the considerable construction that will be needed.

Mason says CCPS is using COVID-19 operational savings and maintenance funds for the project. No funding requests were made to the county.

Construction for the elevator began Monday, May 11 and is expected to be completed in approximately two months.

According to Mason, approximately 25 years ago a stair lift was installed at Randolph-Henry High School so students who were wheelchair-bound, or students who were injured and using crutches, could access the top floor of the school, or the bottom floor where the cafeteria is located. Since that time, wheelchairs have become heavier by hundreds of pounds due to motorization.

Mason said that as a result, the lift that has been in place has worn out past the point of repair.

Maintenance funds have paid for technicians to come out and repair this lift only to have it broken again the next day Mason said.

To further complicate the problem, CCPS was informed that installing any lift system, which blocks a stairwell on either side when the lift is in use, is a fire code violation.

“I have looked at all of our options, and installing an elevator is the only solution,” CCPS Director of Operations Brette Arbogast said.

“We certainly hate that this purchase has to take place during a time when so many people are hurting financially from the economic effects of COVID-19, but we have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure that all of our students are able to access any part of our schools.” Mason said. “Also, as work continues at Phenix and Bacon District Elementary Schools, ensuring that students with physical limitations have appropriate access to all parts of the schools will be a continued focus.”