Published in the December 8, 2016 edition


NORTH READING – The planned repairs to the drainage system of the new high school and middle school were not able to be completed on schedule and will have to be continued in April, members of the Secondary Schools Building Committee learned last week.

Gilbane Co. manager Joanna Kripp said the company had a plan to repair problems in the drainage system starting the day after Thanksgiving and on weekends while the school was not in session. Last Tuesday, she told the SSBC they were unable to complete as many of the repairs as they had planned before the end of the month.

“Basically we completed the repairs we anticipated to get done before Thanksgiving,” she said. Last Thursday the crews were back putting down a binder coat and thermal patch to prevent water from getting in over the winter. The work crews are now “demobilizing” from the site and will return to begin the repairs again in April, during school vacation.

In addition, there are still some minor “punch list” items that will have to be taken care of over the Christmas vacation, she explained. The punch list will be done with the exception of the drainage by the end of the calendar year, she said.

There are plantings that need to be installed in the spring to replace plants that didn’t make it through the long, hot and dry summer, but most of the plantings have been take care of, she said.

SSBC member Sean Delaney said he’s “not a fan” of continuing the drainage work until April vacation.

“We have seen since the start of the work on Nov. 19 the problems they’ve run into and the very little they got done in a 10 day time period and the extensive, more work they’ve had to do once they started to dig.

“I think it’s an excessive burden on the administration, the staff, teachers and visitors to the campus to do this anytime other than the summer.” Delaney suggested they should open up the drainage on July 1 “and let them do it then.

“It’s unfair to the superintendent and two principals to put up with this added aggravation of work that was not done correctly to begin with.”

High School Principal AJ Loprete downplayed the inconvenience and aggravation at the school when the partial repairs were conducted last month, “given the amount of work that was done.” He estimated the traffic delay at about 25 minutes throughout the whole process.

“It was not a much work as you wanted to get done but we managed very well,” he added.

Middle School Principal Catherine O’Connell agreed, but added safety is always her first concern and middle school students aren’t always as aware as they should be. The idea of construction while students are on campus always concerns her, but there was “very little” impact to the middle school day in the previous two weeks.

Superintendent Jon Bernard said they would work to get the project done and if they can take advantage of a few days in April, so much the better.

Of course, if it snows in April, all their plans could be out the window. SSBC Chairman said the repair crews would be taking it “one hole at a time.” But the remaining repairs will take more than five days to complete.

Stephen O’Leary asked if the inability to fix the problem on schedule was caused because the damage to the drainage was more extensive than anticipated.

It was a combination of factors, she replied. There were additional locations and lines that needed to be addressed and some of the pipe was deeper than anticipated. The first phase of the repairs took longer to complete than expected.

The SSBC’s next meeting will be Dec. 13, when the committee hopes to wrap up the last of the project invoices.