Treasurer Grossman examines school damage
Date: 6/14/2011June 15, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD State Treasurer Stephen Grossman, who is chair of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), and MSBA Executive Director Katherine Craven toured the Elias Brookings Museum Magnet School and the Mary A. Dryden Veterans Memorial School on June 8 to assess first-hand the damage to those two schools in anticipation of the MSBA offering financial support for the repairs.
In a statement issued after the tour, Grossman said, "We were all stunned when we saw the full extent of the damage that these storms caused, and I want to ensure that every resource at our disposal is applied to the recovery effort. In addition to gaining a first-hand appreciation of the true devastation that struck here last week, our visit today is meant to drive home a central message to this region we are here for you, and we're committed to helping you rebuild."
Craven added, "The MSBA is prepared to work with districts that have had schools impacted by the devastating weather. Our emergency Statement of Interests process is designed to expedite our process so we can assist districts with facilities that have been compromised due to unexpected circumstances such as last week's severe storms."
At the Brookings School on Hancock Street in the Maple High Six Corners Neighborhood, George Rollins, the senior building custodian, explained to Reminder Publications
the school suffered from significant roof damage that will require replacing the membrane. It also lost four wind turbine ventilators from the roof, which has also developed leaks. Many of the windows in the building were destroyed as well.
What Grossman, Craven and the MSBA board, as well as City Councilors Jose Tosado, Michael Fenton, E. Henry Twiggs and Kateri Walsh, State Rep. Benjamin Swan, School Superintendent Dr. Alan Ingram and School Committee member Antonette Pepe saw inside the school also impressed them. In two classrooms the tornado's winds blew into the room and then sucked back out, destroying the wall that separates the classroom from the hallway.
Craven noted that in an assessment of school's construction and physical status before the tornado, the Brookings School had made good marks, but she added that Dryden had not.
Dryden is in "an unusual position," Craven said. Avoiding the word "demolition," she added there may be "another solution" for Dryden.
Craven said that over the next few weeks the MSBA will be meeting with city officials to discuss what to do with the two buildings.
Brookings Principal Terry Powe said, "It's hard to walk back through [the school]" during the tour.
When the tornado hit on June 1, the students had been dismissed but staff members were still here, she explained.
"I'm thankful to God He allowed us to get out of here safely," she said.
At Dryden School, opposite Cathedral High School, on Surrey Road, the damage to the roof was clearly evident. Not only was the membrane hanging on the side of the building like a curtain, but also the roof's wooden structure was broken and strewn across the street.
Ingram explained the school suffered other damages including ones to windows, classroom and wiring. The roof, he added, was just one year old.
He added, "It's safe to assume the wing [of the school most affected] will be torn down and replaced."
David Meehan, the assistant director of operations for the city's Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management, said all of the electronic technology from the school was retrieved as well as student records.
After looking at Dryden, Grossman said, "The goal is to get the kids back into schools for the next school year whether in these buildings or not."