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Windham parents gather to discuss portable classroom problems

WINDHAM — Water damage to the portable classrooms at Golden Brook Elementary School is forcing district officials to relocate some of the school’s third-graders to the high school for the remainder of the school year.

The children will begin receiving their lessons at Windham High School on Monday, March 3, immediately following February vacation, Superintendent Winfried Feneberg said.

Local parents, who were notified of the pending changes via email on Friday, were invited to a special meeting with administrators and the Windham School Board in the elementary school gymnasium Monday evening.

Approximately 200 parents filled the seats for the informational meeting, eager to hear final details on the changes to their children’s modified school days.

“Your concerns as both parents and taxpayers is very much appreciated,” Golden Brook School Principal Christi Michaud told them. “We care very much for our students and our priority is for their safety and well-being at this time.”

The School Board will discuss the facilities side of things during their Tuesday night meeting.

Four third-grade classes will spend the rest of the school year at the high school, while four first-grade classes will be moved to other areas of Golden Brook School, including the art and music rooms and the computer lab.

Michaud said the third-graders were told of the plans early Monday morning during a meeting with guidance staff, where the children had questions about whether or not they’d still be able to attend Golden Brook School assemblies, take out library books and have peanut-safe eating areas.

“All of those questions were answered with a ‘yes’,” Michaud said. “And when we told them they’d soon have their own lockers at the high school, that’s when the crowd went really wild.”

She further stressed that the area at the high school being set aside for the third-grade guests is separate from the classroom areas for older students, noting that the area in question is presently used for the district’s preschool programs, including the fenced-in outdoor area that will be used for recess.

Parents had plenty of questions Monday night.

Laura Dempsey said she wanted to make sure her third-grader was safe at the high school and wondered if, perhaps, having a bathroom monitor might be something the district would consider, rather than having children visit the restroom in pairs as suggested.

“I don’t know if sending two little ones out in the hallways is such a good idea,” she told Michaud.

School officials said the third-graders would go on a field trip to the high school on Thursday to get a better feel for their new digs, while an open house for parents and students on Sunday, March 2, will allow further opportunity to get acquainted with the makeshift elementary classrooms.

School Board Chairman Mike Joanis said it remains to be determined whether the portable classrooms would be repaired or replaced.

“Right now we’re determining what we’re going to do next,” he said.

Feneberg said tests have been conducted on the portable classrooms on a monthly basis since last summer, and no elevated mold levels were discovered before last week.

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