Council looks into school maintenance

Posted on: December 6, 2018, by :

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HAVERHILL — A leaking gymnasium roof at Haverhill High School interrupted a travel team basketball game on Sunday and forced four other games to be played at the Plaistow YMCA, while a leaky pool building roof caused tiles to fall off the walls in the women’s bathroom, according to one city councilor.

“The first game was completed, although it had to be stopped several times to wipe up leaks on the floor,” Councilor Timothy Jordan said, adding the second travel basketball game on Sunday was canceled and that some parents were not notified in time.

He said the Plaistow YMCA stepped up and four other games were moved to that location.

Leaky school roofs are just a few examples of problems resulting from a lack of building maintenance, Jordan told the council when it met Tuesday night.

He asked the council to send a letter to the mayor asking that his Joint Facilities Committee meet in January to come up with a “comprehensive plan for repairs.”

After the meeting, Jordan told The Eagle-Tribune that his goal is to get that committee together to conduct an assessment of all school buildings, determine what roofs need to be repaired or replaced, which boilers need to be replaced, and devise a plan for repairing or replacing roofs at Whittier Middle School and the Tilton Elementary School.

Jordan and Councilor Colin LePage as well as School Committee member Maura Ryan Ciardiello are on that committee, which is chaired by School Committeeman Scott Wood.

Two weeks ago, Fiorentini told the council that torrential rains on Nov. 17 and 18 resulted in leaks at the Consentino and at other city buildings as well as at homes throughout the city.

The mayor said the school department has its own maintenance department, work order system and an annual maintenance budget of $3.5 million as well as five trained maintenance personnel, multiple custodians and a facilities director.

He said the city has an emergency roofing contractor, JNR Roofing, as well as other roofing companies that are on call.

“If a roof leaks, the standard protocol is that the roofer is called immediately and the roof is patched immediately so as to prevent further damage,” the mayor told the council.

The mayor said he took it upon himself to contact the roofing company directly, and was told the company had not been notified of Consentino’s leaky roof.

Fiorentini said school officials were unaware of a building maintenance plan he said has been in place since 2013, and which he said the city had submitted to the state to gain approval for the Hunking school building plan.

Fiorentini said he would not criticize the new school superintendent nor the new school maintenance director for being unaware of the maintenance plan and available money to fix Consentino’s roof, nor would he criticize them for not calling the city’s roofing company or backup company but instead contacted two other companies to request repair estimates.

“The roofing problems, which some have chosen to politicize, is not a tax issue, it is not a budget issue, it is not even a roofing issue,” the mayor said. “It is a management issue.

“Let’s work together and straighten this out,” he said.

Jordan said his hope is to obtain an honest and accurate assessment of school buildings to determine what needs to be done to repair or replace roofs, boilers, and anything else that needs to be repaired or replaced.

“Let’s start addressing and fixing the problems we have now, then come up with a long-term plan for maintenance,” he said.

Fiorentini told The Eagle-Tribune on Wednesday that repairs to Consentino’s roof were completed earlier this week.

The council approved Jordan’s request to send a letter to the mayor, asking him to schedule a meeting in January of the Joint Facilities Committee.

Fiorentini said he would ask Wood to schedule that meeting.

“Their task is to get information, so everyone is on the same page,” Fiorentini said. “What I’m hoping they will discuss is the Consentino. We will know by then whether it’s been approved by the state for extensive renovation like was done at the high school.”

He said the state’s School Building Authority is scheduled to meet Dec. 12 to decide on the city’s request to renovate the Consentino.

Jordan said that in the meantime, School Superintendent Margaret Marotta has hired a project manager to oversee temporary repairs to the high school‘s gymnasium roof and pool roof, which he said “hopefully will get us through the winter.”

“My hope is that, after we start to put out these fires, to start to come up with a comprehensive maintenance plan and that it is implemented,” Jordan said.

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