Substituting a town hall-style meeting for its regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting on Monday, the Lawrence School District invited residents to the cafeteria in the high school for an update on district news after Hurricane Sandy.
Superintendent Gary Schall recapped the damage that district buildings suffered due to Sandy from the high school auditorium that is now closed for repairs and the sinkholes created by flooding on the high school grounds. The middle school and the Number Two, Four and Five schools had little or no damage.
Schall said that many school districts suffered much more severe damage to their buildings. The main reason Lawrence schools remained closed was due to the loss of power and safety concerns because traffic signals were not working.
“There was a profound sense of loss,” he said, “but the community came together.”
The high school is operating on one functional boiler out of the two it had before the storm, said Facilities Director Chris Milano, who added that much of what was stored under the stage in the high school auditorium was thrown out. “We think we have reached a point where we have controlled the odor in the building,” Milano said. Dr. Ann Pedersen, the district’s assistant superintendent for Academic Affairs added, that where the odor was the strongest, classes were relocated to another part of the building during the first few days after the school reopened.
Residents peppered environmental consultant Brendan Broderick with several questions. Most of them focused on the possibility of mold growing in the school. Broderick, a Long Beach resident, whose home was damaged by Sandy, explained that the colder November weather helped as mold typically grows in 70 percent relative humidity environments. The relative humidity has hovered around 30 percent since the storm, he said.
“When in doubt, throw it out,” Broderick said was a maxim used by his company, JC Broderick & Associates, about whether to keep or trash items that were water damaged.