AP NEWS

Chelmsford Schools Seek State Help with Buildings

March 17, 2019

CHELMSFORD -- This year, Chelmsford Public Schools are hoping the Massachusetts School Building Authority can help them out with two different projects.

Last month, Superintendent Jay Lang submitted a statement of interest to the MSBA’s Accelerated Repair Program to replace three portions of the roof at South Row Elementary School.

Next month, the town will try for the third time to get into the MSBA’s Core Program for a high school building project.

According to Lang, most of the South Row roof was replaced earlier in the 2000s when solar panels were installed on top of the building. Three sections, however, were not, and are now past the point of repair, he said.

“We have roof leaks, particularly when there’s snow or rain,” Lang said. “The ceiling tiles are stained, and there’s some dripping down the walls.”

According to the project application, the areas that need to be replaced were installed in 1991 and do not have solar panels.

“The roof membranes have numerous splits and punctures which have been patched and repaired for years,” the document states.

Lang said the most significant spot is over the cafeteria, in particular the kitchen prep area. He said it hasn’t gotten to the point that water is coming through and contaminating or spoiling food, but “certainly we want the area to be as clean and sanitary as possible.”

The other portions of the roof that need to be replaced are over the gym and the front awning, Lang said.

The total area targeted for work represents about 13,000 square feet of the total 56,000-square-foot roof, he said.

Lang estimates the project to be in the $250,000 to $300,000 range. If the application is successful, MSBA will reimburse about 50 percent, he said. He expects to hear back from the MSBA within the next few months.

While he’d prefer to have the work done over the summer, Lang said fall is more realistic, and the work can be done at times that will not disrupt the school day. He expects the project to take no more than two weeks to a month from start to finish.

The School Committee and Board of Selectmen approved submitting the statement of interest at meetings on Feb. 5 and Feb. 11, respectively.

The last two years, Chelmsford has unsuccessfully applied to be considered for reimbursement for a high school building project, cast aside in favor of school districts with much more dire need.

“We’re in competition with other communities in the state,” Lang said. “It comes down to the condition of the buildings, the need within the communities. It’s based on the pool of applicants that particular year, so we’re going to give it another try.”

He said Chelmsford’s third application will be much the same as the previous years, with no significant changes. Lang said he’s in the process of finalizing the paperwork, which will go before the Board of Selectmen for a vote in late March and the School Committee in early April in order to meet the mid-April submission deadline.

Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.