WINDHAM — A leaky roof over portable classrooms has forced school officials to relocate 160 first-graders into the main Golden Brook School building.
School officials conferred yesterday with structural and roofing consultants to begin looking at the trouble, potential costs, the scope of work and just how long it will take.
The School Board is expected to discuss the situation Tuesday night with superintendent Winfried Feneberg, principal Christi Michaud and other administrators.
Meanwhile, Michaud said, an informational forum for parents will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday at the school.
A key concern moving forward is whether there is a mold problem in the portables and how that might affect student health.
“We are not going to have any learning environment that is compromised,” Feneberg said.
That’s why officials moved the students into the main school building.
“We did not want to take any chances,” he said.
Officials relocated the students over two days, Monday and Tuesday, after the leaky roof was discovered following the weekend.
In exploring the leak, officials found what they suspect is mold.
“We have decided to move all students out of the building until a full, complete and exhaustive investigation of the building can be performed and all remediation work can be completed,” officials said in a notice to parents on Tuesday.
Michaud said officials moved eight classrooms of students into the main building.
They are occupying music and art classrooms, the library, special education and other areas. Two kindergarten classrooms were combined to make room.
“(Yesterday) morning they were settled in well,” Michaud said.
The principal and superintendent greeted parents before classes started yesterday.
“Parents were positive,” Michaud said. “They were thankful and appreciated we were making lemonade out of lemons here.”
School staff was doing the best they could, the principal said.
“No doubt it’s challenging,” she said.
Feneberg praised their efforts.
“The spirit of cooperation and can-do attitude is phenomenal,” he said.
In their notice to parents, officials warned it could take some time before the problem is resolved.
“We will provide more information as we have it, but parents need to be prepared for students to be in alternative classroom environments for an extended amount of time while we address this issue,” it said.
School Board member Dennis Senibaldi, who with Chairman Mike Joanis has worked on facility issues for the board during the past year, is looking for a swift resolution.
“This needs to be solved and solved now,” Senibaldi said.
Last summer, the school district took steps to deal with leaks around windows in the portable classrooms and began monitoring to guard against mold trouble.
Senibaldi had pushed for the board to pursue a siding project to alleviate that problem.
He did not want to speculate before meeting with consultants about the potential expense, but said officials do have financial resources to tap, including a refund of insurance money from the Local Government Center.
Feneberg also was reluctant to predict what’s next before administrators have heard from consultants and met with the School Board.
“Taxpayer money likely will be expended,” he said. “It’s too early to speculate or make any predictions.”
School officials are looking to get a better handle on the problem at this point before moving forward.
“We want to get a better picture of the extent of the damage and the necessary repairs,” Feneberg said.