SCHOOL NEWS

Breaking the mold

Former junior high to serve as temporary elementary school

By JOHN HOWELL
Posted 9/9/21

By JOHN HOWELL While tests found efforts to clean Sherman School of mold were successful, the school administration is taking no chances and hopes to have all 320 students, faculty and staff relocated to the former Gorton Junior High School on Draper

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SCHOOL NEWS

Breaking the mold

Former junior high to serve as temporary elementary school

Posted

While tests found efforts to clean Sherman School of mold were successful, the school administration is taking no chances and hopes to have all 320 students, faculty and staff relocated to the former Gorton Junior High School on Draper Avenue by Oct. 1.

Superintendent Lynn Dambruch said Tuesday she was not prepared to risk a recurrence of mold and an abrupt closure of the school. In addition, after looking at multiple alternatives – including classrooms in the former St. Benedict School, New England Institute of Technology on Post Road and the Oakland Beach and Norwood branches of the Warwick Boys and Girls Clubs – the decision was made to keep the school community together. The decision to move the school to the first floor of the former Gorton Junior High School, which is currently used as administrative offices, was made Friday. Those offices, including Dambruch’s, will be relocated to the second floor of the former school.

Online Sherman classes resumed yesterday and will continue until classrooms are up and ready in Gorton.

Meanwhile, the plan is to revise the schedule for installation of elementary school HVAC systems – part of the department’s plan to upgrade school buildings – to put Sherman at the front of the list. Dambruch estimates bid specifications for the system could be ready this fall with construction beginning early next year.

To make the move as least disruptive as possible, photos are being taken of the existing classrooms starting this week before the packing begins so as to replicate classroom setups as closely as possible. Packing up administrative offices moving to the second floor started Tuesday. Some offices, including transportation, central registration, English Language, or EL, and payroll, will move to the single-story building behind the school. The former Greene Elementary School that is adjacent to Gorton was ruled out for Sherman, as a portion of the building once used for City Annex offices is home to West Bay Collaborative classrooms.

Dambruch said Gorton seemed like the logical temporary home for Sherman, as in addition to having air conditioning, WiFi, Promethean Boards and the required 17 classrooms, it has a cafeteria, auditorium and gym. Dambruch, Assistant Superintendent William McCaffrey, other school staff and Mayor Frank Picozzi toured the school Friday. The city’s fire marshal and inspectors also looked at the building, giving it the clearances needed for the students to move in.

One of the “stickiest” problems, said Dambruch, was moving the phone system from Sherman to Gorton. Numbers won’t be changing for the school.

On Tuesday, Sherman Principal Charlee McElroy walked the building assigning classrooms. The school has three classes in each grade, with the exception of fifth grade, which has two classes.

A parents’ meeting at Veterans Memorial Middle School to review changes and address questions was scheduled for last night.

Dambruch said once classrooms have been set up, an open house would be held before classes actually start at Gorton. She said a sign would be erected outside the building designating it as Sherman.

“We want to make it as homey and comfortable as possible,” she said.

For McCaffrey, retaining the school as a community, rather than locating some classes in one place and other elsewhere, was a priority.

“I’m happy they’re all in one place,” said Dambruch. Asked if she thought Gorton might become the permanent Sherman with the existing building reverting to city property, Dambruch thought not.

“Mold is not my friend,” she said defiantly.

Then she noted that once the HVAC work is completed at Sherman at an estimated cost of $1.8 million, “the problem will be taken care of once and for all.”

Steve Gothberg, school director of buildings and grounds, said Wednesday he is looking to package improvements scheduled for the school over two bond issues so as to complete all the work planned for Sherman – from the HVAC to windows, electrical work and ADA projects, expected to cost about $4 million in total – and reopen the school next fall.

“That may be the one good thing to come out of this,” he said.

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