Meadowbrook parents expressed determination at a meeting Wednesday night to make sure renovations did not take place while school was in session. In particular, they expressed concerns about removing asbestos floor tiles while students were present.
About 20 parents turned out to a meeting in the Community Room at the EG Police Department to discuss plans designed to solve the stubborn moisture problems at Meadowbrook Farms. In March, the School Committee voted to approve a $2.3 million bid by Tower Construction to replace the floor, roof and HVAC system at the K-3 school. The question last night was when the work should take place.
Under a proposal bid on by Tower, the work would start in June, as soon as school was out, and continue through summer 2013. In other words, construction would be taking place throughout the 2012-13 school year, with classes moving around to accommodate the construction. Building officials have said safety precautions would be in place throughout the construction. When asked about the removal of the asbestos flooring, officials have said stringent standards dictate that safety precautions are paramount.
The parents at the meeting Wednesday night were unconvinced.
“If they’re doing the asbestos work, there’s no way in the world my kid’s going to that school,” said parent Mike Zarrella. “It’s the most unhealthy thing out there.”
“Asbestos is toxic to every single person,” said another parent. “I don’t want my child to be 25 years old and having tumors,” said a third.
While asbestos removal seemed to be everyone’s primary concern, parents also spoke of the problems that could arise if children were exposed to construction noise, as well as the disruption from having to move classrooms every three months during the 2012-13 year.
Parent David Gecawich argued for a plan that would start construction in June and would continue until the work was completed — as soon as December 31 if work were to take place around the clock.
That plan and other variations are being priced out now. The School Committee expects prices for those alternative plans when they meet next April 24.
Parents at the meeting Wednesday said they wanted to keep up the pressure on the School Committee and spoke of the need for a strong presence at the next meeting.
“If there isn’t somebody keeping their eye on the prize, they will rush it through,” said PTG co-president Kathleen Johnson of the School Committee. “We need bodies in the seats. We need to show up.”
Parent Bambi Lukens, who has been in attendance at many School Committee meetings this school year, expressed distrust in the panel’s desire to engage the public. “You go to any of the SC meetings, and they do not want you there,” she said.
Parents also talked about the School Building Committee. They want members of the Meadowbrook community represented on that panel. Right now, no one with a direct connection to the school is on it. Ron Areglado, the former principal, had been on the committee but stepped down when he resigned his position for health reasons earlier this year.