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School presents challenges

Over the past couple of weeks two structural issues at Minnechaug Regional High School have been brought to the attention of the School Committee by the District's administration. On March 11 the Committee was made aware of a hole and cracks in the west wall of the "Green Gym". For potential safety reasons, this gym was immediately closed to student activity. The next day our Structural Engineer was on scene to evaluate the situation.

On March 14, he issued his report which indicated that the damaged wall uncovered more serious problems caused by thermal expansion and contraction to the masonry system. This has been occurring over the years and now requires immediate attention. The "Green Gym" remains closed until the initial work, estimated at $12,000 to $15,000, is completed. The engineer has recommended further work that will be done this summer, requiring an additional $40,000 to $50,000.

A few days later, a small water pipe leak was discovered in the girls' locker room adjacent to the "Falcon Gym." Our maintenance crew began to fix the problem, which required some ceiling demolition. The ceiling material was mistakenly believed to be asbestos by some students, but in fact it was not. However, there was a small amount of asbestos encasing the pipe's elbows. The area was closed to students and an asbestos removal company performed the necessary abatement. It should be noted there was never asbestos exposure to our students.

These two incidents reflect the ongoing challenges of addressing the needs of our regional high school building. We will continue to act to insure that the building is safe for our students, staff and public.

Scott R. Chapman, Chair

Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee