, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 14, 2011


Pentucket Regional School Committee

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011


A motion by Maureen Moran to ask the Merrimac Board of Health to revisit Donaghue Elementary School to investigate reports of lingering odors in the building following recent mold and asbestos remediation. The committee agreed to implement a previously approved contingency plan for holding classes elsewhere in the district if the health board decided to close the school. A motion by Groveland's Joe D'Amore to close the school immediately failed to receive a second from another member.

Numerous parents and teachers raised concerns about the lingering odors, saying they are causing headaches, sore throats and general states of ill ease. Facilities manager Greg Hadden said the smell was likely the result of the combination of non-oil-based cleaning products used in the work and aggressive ventilation. Worries were raised about the safety of immune-compromised individuals and pregnant staff in the building and the long-term health impact of daily exposure to an unhealthy learning environment.

The comments came during a public-comment session at the start of the meeting, and parents were upset when Chairman Rich Perrotti closed comment after 30 minutes. Perrotti said the committee had listen to the concerns and voted to take actions to address them. He felt the comments were becoming repetitive and said the committee had a lengthy agenda. Merrimac resident Ed Hardy asked for the session to continue until all questions had been asked. He later said he believed the administration had demonstrated a pattern of withholding information about problems at Donaghue School from the committee.

A request by Hadden for the committee to formally thank all members of his team who worked on the mold and asbestos remediation and cleanup at Donaghue. The board also acknowledged the teachers who worked on Sunday to restore their classrooms after the cleanup was completed.

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