Troubled Scarborough school preps for new windows

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SCARBOROUGH — Over the Thanksgiving weekend, four classrooms in the Wentworth Intermediate School will have windows removed and boarded over in anticipation of replacement scheduled during the winter holiday break.

The plan, according to Facilities Director Todd Jepson, is to remove as many windows as possible before the replacement windows arrive, because the removal process and air-quality testing takes four days. During those days, students and teachers cannot be in the rooms.

Twenty-eight windows in the Wentworth building are being replaced after testing this summer found asbestos in the glazing. Since then, the windows have been kept closed, which has caused heat and air-quality issues in the classrooms. In an effort to get fresh air into the classrooms, the School Department is replacing one window in each room.

Because of their odd size, the windows must be custom built.

“We have all the window frames and solid panes of glass on site. The sliding sections are being manufactured in Massachusetts,” Jepson said. “They’ll ship them to us all at once.”

He said as far as he knew, production is on schedule and the entire window replacement project will be completed during the winter holiday break.

Replacing the windows and doors in the aging building has cost nearly $228,000, much of which has come out of the district’s capital improvement budget. Other repairs to the building, including waterproofing and ventilation repairs, air-quality testing and cleaning of water-damaged carpets has cost the district more than $60,000 since July.

In addition, a new report by Northeast Test Consultants recognized the existence of floor tiles containing asbestos and recommended that any removal of carpets or tiles be done only by properly trained personnel.

The report also recommended that, in the future, the school require that all new building materials be free of asbestos.

“They still make products that can contain asbestos. Most people don’t know that,” Jepson said.

Jepson said the future of the Wentworth building will depend on how the taxpayers vote in a referendum likely to be held next November.

“If they decide they want to renovate, removing the asbestos tiles will be part of the process,” he said. “If they vote to build a new school, obviously, there will be abatement during the demolition.”

The Wentworth Building Committee is meeting regularly to discuss options for possible renovation or replacement of the existing building. The committee, made up of town councilors, School Board members, community members and parents, will make recommendation to the Town Council.

Jepson said he said he was just beginning to understand some of the issues with the 2006 referendum to replace Wentworth and the middle school buildings, which voters turned down.

“We’ve got a large amount of work to do before it goes to referendum,” Jepson said. “We want to make sure the public is informed better this time.”

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

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