School Committee Updated on J.G. Whittier Repairs

John Greenleaf Whittier School in Haverhill (File photograph.)

The Haverhill School Committee received updates on the repair status for J.G. Whittier Middle School Thursday night.

School Committee member Paul A. Magliocchetti requested the update as a way to “provide clarity” on the 60-year old building. Magliocchetti put the item on Thursday’s agenda following an email that he received over the weekend from Whittier parent Paige Caswell.

“There were some emails going back and forth over the weekend and we’re just trying to get some clarity about what’s going on over at the J.G. Whitter,” said Magliocchetti. “I know sometimes you can’t filter what’s being said out there, either on social media or on the emails. But I think it’s very important that we keep this moving forward on the agenda.”

Superintendent Margaret Marotta told the committee that several repairs to the building—which include asbestos abatement and mold remediation—were well underway. Marotta added that work on the bathrooms have been put out to bid and are slated for April break.

“We had hoped to get those replaced over February vacation, or at least to begin that work over February vacation. However, there were several emergencies at that school and at others that needed to take precedence over that,” Marotta said at the meeting.

According to Marotta, one of the reasons for the heating problems in the building was due to some missing heating valves that weren’t included in a previous project. Marotta says that new valves have been ordered and will be installed.

“My understanding is that those valves are very expensive as valves go. Five, six, seven-thousand dollars just for the valves and then they need to be installed beyond that. So, at this point and time, we have ordered and will be installing those valves and we believe that that will help alleviate some of the inconsistency in the heat across the building.”

The committee voted unanimously to get a complete estimate of the work that still needs to be completed at the school.

School Committee Chairman Sven A. Amirian said that the safety of the staff and students is “paramount.” He expressed his “full confidence” that Marotta, and school Supervisor of Facilities Heather Forgione, would address any safety issues.

“What we’re going to be doing in three or four or five years. That’s something we need to consider too because we don’t want to just leap to spend money on certain items that may be nullified. I’m thinking in terms of this ESCO too,” Amirian said. “If you put band-aids on larger problems. Putting in new windows when you’ve got a failing infrastructure. That’s just silly.

Caswell called out city officials and school committee members in an email obtained by WHAV. In the letter, Caswell requested that repairs be made to the heating system and bathrooms at the school. She said that “this city does not care about the children at J.G. Whittier. There is no investment in the youth at this school. It’s utterly disgraceful.”

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