9 Investigates: Repairs coming to run-down Apopka School



APOPKA. Fla. - A 9 Investigates report that exposed deplorable conditions inside an Apopka elementary school is getting results.

An Orange County school leader is trying to move students out of Wheatley Elementary School as soon as possible.

Carmen Dudley said it took Channel 9 airing images of a rusted-out water fountain, sagging ceiling tiles and a termite infestation inside her child's school to see changes.

"Too little, too late. Like I said, it's an old building. There's only so much you can do," said Dudley.

Wheatley Elementary is more than 60 years old and scheduled to be replaced by August 2015. School board representative Christine Moore admits that timetable is why some repairs were put off until Channel 9 exposed the problems.

"The school was so close to being rebuilt. It never makes sense because the funding is, if you spend so much on renovations, then you can lose that as part of your new school package," said Moore.

Now that the school is in the spotlight, Moore said she's working to move the construction date up a semester and hopes to put students in a new building by January 2015.

Moore said when the building is torn down, the new school will go in a space that is currently a park that sits on a hill. She said most new schools are built based on premade prototypes, but because the new school will be on a hill, the building has to be custom-designed, which takes longer.

"Are you making it your mission to expedite this process?" Channel 9's Karla Ray asked Moore.

"Oh, absolutely, because we want every child to be in the best learning environment possible," said Moore.

The school is scheduled for what school officials described as "microcleaning" and more repairs over spring break.

Dudley said she worries that it's all to save face, not to benefit her children.

"It's to get heat off their back. Once this story dies down, hopefully it doesn't, they'll push it under the rug and kids will be forgotten about," said Dudley.

The new school project is already funded, so officials said there is no chance that a lack of money will delay the plans.