, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 17, 2014

School Committee votes to raze modular classrooms at PRHS

WEST NEWBURY – The modular classrooms located at the front of the Pentucket Regional High School will be gone when students return to classes this fall – a casualty of flood damage caused by a water main break back in April.

At a rare Monday night meeting, the School Committee voted to raze the structure rather than attempt to repair it, following a discussion with Business Manager Greg Labrecque and Superintendent Jeff Mulqueen. Jack Willett of Groveland was the only member to vote no.

When comparing the cost to repair the classrooms with the amount needed to take them down, Labrecque told the board there was “really no right or wrong answer here” in terms of what they should do. He then went on to make a case for why tearing them down was the way to go, at least fiscally speaking. The district’s insurance company essentially views the structure as a total loss— offering only $48,234.46 in compensation for the damage and approximately $45,000 more to reimburse custodian overtime salaries paid during the emergency.

On April 13 a water main located just underneath the building’s foundation burst, flooding the four modular classrooms and the wing of the school that connects them to the main building. A routine check by West Newbury police spotted the problem around 5 a.m.. School was closed for the following day, while a certified cleanup crew tackled the problem. The cause of the break was never determined Labrecque said on Tuesday. As far as he knew, “the pipe failed but no one ever gave a reason why.”

In preliminary estimates obtained by the business manager, the cost to repair the modulars would run upwards of $108,894. Of that amount, he estimates $25,978 to replace the HVAC and repair the piping; $64,650 for repairs to the floors, walls and outside gutters; and $18,266 for new flooring. By comparison, the cost to remove the classrooms was estimated at $13,000, with $3,000 of that going to remove A/C coolant and disconnect the electricity and gas.

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