WILLIAMSTOWN -- Two burst pipes within days of each other are the latest facility issues at Mount Greylock Regional High School.
The pipes became an agenda item at Thursday’s meeting of the Building Subcommittee after they burst last week when sub-zero temperatures visited the region.
"The extreme weather began to wreak havoc on our HVAC system," Superintendent of Williamstown and Lanesborough Public Schools Rose Ellis said.
On the evening Wednesday, Jan. 23, the air handler in the boy’s locker room burst, causing a major water leak. As a result, the boiler to shut off, Ellis said, and almost led to school being canceled the next day. Then, at night on Friday, Jan. 25, a water pipe joint above the boy’s locker room failed.
"Water came down through the ceiling joints, lights, the lighting sensors and the smoke detectors," she said.
The leak triggered the fire alarm, disrupting sports activities occurring in the gym. The boy’s locker room has been closed all week as a result of the leak, Ellis said, and contractors were at the school on Thursday to remove the compromised ceiling.
"Once again, [the building] is impacting education here at our school, and everybody is dealing with it the best they can," she said.
Committee member John Benzinger stressed the region experiences those temperatures every year, and the building should have been built to handle them.
"It’s just another example of the deficiencies of this building," Benzinger said.
In 2005, the school was placed on a warning status with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation agency for deficiencies in the building. The school is up for re-accreditation again in 2015.
Principal Jack Kurty said he outlined ways the administration has addressed facility concerns in a letter to NEASC dated Jan. 10. Addressing NEASC’s concern over science labs took a priority, Kurty said. The agency expressed concern over inadequately sized science classrooms and labs, inoperable fume hoods, the lack of an emergency shower in the chemistry room, and a large amount of chemicals throughout the science wing. Waste management company Clean Harbors has given quotes to remove chemicals of concern, the letter states. But the committee agreed ventilation in the science labs still needs to be addressed.
"They aren’t to the standard we want," Ellis said.
Over the next few months, the school building committee will work on community outreach for both initiatives the district is pursuing: A school building project and a regionalization study. School Committee chair Carrie Green said having a K-12 district would put the school in better favor with the Massachusetts School Building Authority for the funding of a school building project.
"The state is interested in making efficiencies," Greene explained.
Committee member Paula Consolini, who is organizing the outreach effort, said suggestion boxes have been placed around town. She said she hopes to develop a team of "ambassadors," who have knowledge of both initiatives and can inform others. In addition, tours of the building are being planned for residents of both towns.
"There’s been good response so far," Consolini said. "People want to know what’s going on."
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