Students at one of Hamilton County's top performing schools are reading and writing in ruins. 

The Chattanooga School for Liberal Arts consistently scores high on test scores and parental involvement, but the 1940s-era building is plagued by decay, mold, and now dozens of mice. 

CSLA was first recommended for replacement in 1999. Despite a strong academic record, and a long waiting list of families who want their children to attend, CSLA continues to decay.

Principal Krystal Scarbrough finds water damage, structural shifting, and eyesores everywhere she looks.  The old building is not handicap accessible, and heating and cooling is a nightmare.  Now, on top of that, there is a rodent infestation.

Kindergarten teacher Jamie Behler, a 25-year CSLA veteran, said, "The mice have found a way into our building.  We have trapped 28 mice in the last 16 days."

Five-year-old students are getting an early lesson in pest control.  Zalika Jeske said, "The mice have peed and pooped all over everything.  They're eating through our supplies."

Teachers are coping with their unwanted visitors, but hope to get some relief soon. Behler said, "I spent one whole weekend cleaning up, so that everything the kids touch would be sanitized."

Maintenance workers are doing their best to patch up the holes,but the staff at CSLA hopes county officials take notice. They say their building is broken.

Teacher Kara Berryhill said, "The county has done everything they can do, but we are desperate for a new building."

School officials will soon present a priority list of new construction projects to County Commissioners, and CSLA is expected to be near the top, along with Harrison Elementary, and a new middle school for East Hamilton. Parents from CSLA will make their case to the School Board Thursday, pointing out that since the school was first recommended for replacement in 1999, the county has built 22 new schools.