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Coastal Voices: Painting over mural was avoidable

I thought there might be more community outrage over the desecration of the student-painted mural at Crescent Elk. Then I reread the story (“Student mural is painted over,” July 26) and realized that if you believed the comments of Jeff Napier, you might believe the painting was warranted. It appears to me that Napier was either misinformed or flat out lying when he said that the stucco had already been compromised when the mural was painted, that the surface wasn’t prepared properly before the mural was painted and that the district wasn’t notified so maintenance could inspect the wall. 

Quite to the contrary, the surface was coated with a high quality blue primer paint that existed for several months before the mural was begun. The head of maintenance knew that a mural was to be painted because I told him personally when he asked about the blue paint. There was never a mention of any need to do anything different in preparation for the mural.

Napier went on to say, “The stucco was flaking off even where the mural is, so we needed to seal the entire wall.” This could not be further from the truth. The paint on that wall was in fine shape. There was one place far to the right of the mural, where a Dumpster had been for many years and the paint was cracked due to the Dumpster being pushed up hard against the building repeatedly. This was exposed during preparation for painting by someone. At that time they had to dig hard into the paint to gouge a small piece of the flower off the mural. The very notion that the mural was “flaking off” makes the district action look justified, but this was not the case. The mural paint was rock hard.

What’s done is done. What is sad is that with better leadership on the part of the school district, this could have been avoided. Painters could have cut in the new paint around the mural and placed a clear sealant over it, as they do in other school districts, where such works of art are more valued. 

To me this begs an important question: How do you “build a healthy community” for our children, when their extensive volunteer efforts are so easily dismissed? 

The school district should hire RJ Salvaressa immediately to repaint this mural, while he has the time and weather permits, with their community-supported maintenance funds. It is the only way for them to save face. Do they have the integrity to do so? 

Joe Gillespie is a science teacher at Crescent Elk Middle School.

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