The Green Meadow Elementary School has served the citizens of Maynard and their children for some 70 years. Even though the building has been upgraded and added-onto over the years, the physical plant is showing its age. As a mid-century building, it was built to 1950s specifications, and that means some of the building materials contain asbestos. We are certainly not alone in this — the state estimates that HALF of all school buildings in Massachusetts are in a similar situation.
The presence of asbestos in a school is not in-and-of-itself a danger. However, a roof leak recently caused a ceiling tile in one of the classrooms to fall. That original ceiling does contain some asbestos, and even though our contractors have assured us that the tiles are “non-friable” (meaning the asbestos does not shred into the air) we have heard the concerns of parents and faculty, and we are taking those concerns seriously.
The oldest wing of the school was closed this winter, and over February vacation in 2019, aggressive work was conducted to remove asbestos-containing building materials where they were found in tests. The result will be modern drop ceilings in several places that used to have older ceiling tiles. The old wing will remain closed until September 2019, so that work can be finished and final tests can be conducted.
Mold is another concern shared by faculty and families alike. While our tests and similar tests conducted by the state government have determined there is not a public health risk in the building, we are compelled to act. We are also cognizant of the fact that — like in our homes — a roof that has shown a tendency to leak is a red flag for future mold issues.
To address concerns about mold at Green Meadow, we are undertaking the following three measures:
- The School Committee and Board of Selectmen are proposing a $100,000 warrant item for town meeting, which would go toward roof repairs at Green Meadow
- The State Department of Public Health has been re-invited to do follow-up inspections and make further recommendations.
- We are adding air purifiers to the school in many rooms. This will have two benefits: Of course, it will clean and filter anything that gets into the air and keep the air fresh, but the appliances will also circulate air in the building. The better the air circulation, the less of a likelihood for mold.
Finally, we feel the building is nearing the end of its service life. Therefore, as you will read throughout these pages, Maynard is going to put forward a proposal in 2019 to the MSBA to try to gain state support for a brand new Green Meadow building.
We reiterate that the safety and welfare of our students, faculty and staff is paramount and comes before all else. If the building was deemed unsafe for any reason at any time, the Maynard Public Schools has contingency plans in place to close the school building. The building will only operate if it is safe.