Back in 2006, a report was commissioned (and $119,000 spent) on the town's school building needs.
Five years later, the School Facilities Study Committee has revisted the findings outlined in that report and has come to the conclusion that not much has changed.
The committee, made of of School Department administrators, teachers, parents and a representative from both the Board of Selectmen and School Committee unveiled their findings in a Power Point presentation at the Selectmen's meeting Tuesday night.
According to Superintendent of Schools John O'Connor, the committee set out to verify the findings of the 2006 report and found that the four targeted schools -- Heath Brook, Trahan, North Street and Dewing -- either had the same problems as five years earlier or had developed new problems also.
Most of of the problems outlined in the report, ranging from roofs needing to be replaced, to subpar electrical systems to erosion to boiler and air conditioner problems have to do with the age of the buildings. The newest of the four, Dewing, is over 40 years old.
Committee member Anne Marie Stronach, the selectmen's representative on the committee, said none of the schools is in an emergency situation but that plans for dealing with the problems identified should be made sooner rather than later.
"We feel the schools are very safe and well equipped," said Stronach. "We just need to bring them up to speed."
In their presentation, the committee makes four recommendations for potential actions to deal with the building problems. The options range from building a new school to house all students in grades 1-4, with Dewing re-habbed to house Kindergarten all the way to simply doing the needed building repairs in a piece-meal way.
Committee member Krissy Polimeno, chairman of the School Committee, acknowledged that the school department had been remiss in keeping up with building maintenance over the years, allowing problems to fester. She said the goal, moving forward, is to be more aggressive with building upkeep.
Stronach said the committee planned to make the same presentation and recommendations to the School Committee next week, after which, she said, she believed the work of the committee would be completed and that the committee should be disbanded.
Stronach suggested that at some point, selectmen should form a School Building Committee to move forward with the next steps in the process. She said such a committee would likely need $10,000 of operating capital to get started and said there would need to be discussions with Town Manager Richard Montuori to try and find where those funds could be located in the budget.
The committee's Power Point presentation is attached to this story as a PDF document.