Last Friday I tagged along with the combined School Committee /City Council Facilities Sub-Committee to tour the Reilly, Robinson and Lowell High School. The idea was for City Councilors to see first hand the issues in these (and all) schools regarding repairs and maintenance issues. It was also an oppertunity to see first hand the benefit of the AMERESCO project at the Reilly School.
The committee consisted of Co-Chairs Jim Leary and Ed Kennedy along with School Committee members Kristin Ross Sitcawich and Bob Gignac and City Councilors Kevin Broderick and Joe Mendonca. I was pleased that Supt. of Schools Jean Franco, Deputy Supt. Jay Lang ,School Facility Manager Brian Curley, Mayor Patrick Murphy, City Councilor Marty Lorrey, City Manager Bernie Lynch and Asst. City Manager Tom Moses, Sun reporter Sarah Favot and ace photographer Bob Whitaker also attended.
We started at the Reilly School which when I pulled up, realized that all the windows in the front and cafeteria had been replaced and the building itself from the outside looked wonderful. For many years previous, you couldn’t see in or out of these windows and the draft inside from the outside was measurable. We met in the Library where Manager Lynch passed out an information packet that highlighted some of the man hours the city has spent on school maintenance issues and on Capital Projects including:
In FY 2010 the City Completed 1,317 school work orders
In FY 2011 the City Completed 1,222 school work orders
In FY 2012 to date the City Completed 1,379 school work orders
Between July of 2011 and May 9 2012 the DPW completed 23 bubblers work orders.
Between January 2007 and July 1 2011 the DPW completed 36,838 hours of straight time and 1036 hours of overtime on schools (Approx. 8,416 hours)
Gas Pipe kitchen replacements at the Wang and Lincoln Schools
Construction of the LHS MIS Computer Room
Replaced the Generator at the Stoklosa School ($95,000)
Approx. 11 million dollars of the 21 million dollar AMERESCO project will be spent in Lowell Schools
However as we walked around the Reilly we saw many bathrooms with urinals and toilets wrapped in plastic and unusable, water leaking, toilets that didn’t fully flush and one bathroom where the odor of urine was disgusting and the custodian explained that was after many many attempts at removing the smell.
AT the Robinson we saw a board placed over a spot where a truck had hit the building 6 years ago that had not been fixed. A wall in the Cafeatorium that was installed in 1969 when the building was opened that was filthy and had never been replaced, bathrooms with leaks, open electrical boxes, broken doors on stalls,,bent stalls, outside doors in need of weather stripping, windows you can’t see out of that the seals have been broken and lockers without handles.
At Lowell High doors that had no handle, stained ceiling tiles, broken windows, rust in bathrooms, water stained carpets and heaters in the feildhouse that haven’t worked in a few years.
The city in the past few years had been under tough fiscal times and has allowed many of these school buildings to get run down. Most schools haven’t had a coat of new paint in years. There are only so many dollars and so much personal but this city MUST take care of the buildings they own and must provide our students with a safe, clean, maintained building.
The Manager has indicated he has an aggressive capital plan and ideas to work with union 1705, the Greater Lowell tech and Community partners in getting some summer help to work on projects and spend capital on repairs throughout the city.
The school dept. has done an outstanding job in creating a Master List of needed repairs. It is time for the city to spend some capital on our schools.