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Windham classrooms soon to be demolished

WINDHAM — Demolition crews will begin tearing down Golden Brook Elementary School’s portable classrooms shortly after classes let out for the year, school officials said this week.

On June 3, the Windham School Board voted in favor of demolishing the structure and to pay off the existing lease.

The board voted in April to spend no further time or effort on repairing the failing structure, which was shuttered this past February due to extensive mold and water damage.

About 160 third-graders were displaced by the closure, leaving the district with no choice but to set up temporary classrooms in an enclosed wing at Windham High School. As of this month, the school district still owed $224,980 on the building’s lease. Business Administrator Adam Steel recommended paying off the entire lease to avoid further interest charges, noting that doing so would allow the district to return about $77,000 to taxpayers annually. Board member Rob Breton, who was opposed to paying off the lease, said he’d like to see those funds used for facility improvements.

Steel said it would cost $17,500 to tear down the modular classrooms. The demolition contract was awarded to All-Ways Wrecking.School board members Ken Eyring and Dennis Senibaldi voted against demolishing the building. Senibaldi said he agreed with the price quoted for the demolition, but felt options for repairing the portable classrooms may not have been properly explored.

“Once this building is gone, we’re burying the body but we’ll never get rid of the stink of decisions the board has made,” he said.

Breton said he took issue with such an analogy, which he felt was inappropriate “when discussing the health of the town’s children.”

Eyring said he also disagreed that the portable classrooms were beyond repair, noting that at least one local contractor had told district officials he’d be willing to fix the building for $240,000.

Contacted on Monday, Steel said the displaced Golden Brook third-graders would return to their makeshift classrooms at the high school this fall.

Meanwhile, a facilities committee has been meeting regularly to explore other options. The committee toured the school’s facilities this past Friday as part of that process.

“Basically, everything’s on the table right now,” Steel said this week.

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