Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By Edward D. Murphy email@example.com
PORTLAND – Students at Hall Elementary School will spend at least a day next week at the former Cathedral parochial school while officials wait for the results of environmental tests at the public school, which suffered water damage after an electrical fire early Monday morning.
The Cathedral School on Cumberland Avenue, seen Tuesday, September 18, 2012, is where Hall Elementary students will temporarily relocate to starting Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
Volunteers, restoration workers and school personnel clean up one many classrooms damaged from this week's fire at Hall Elementary School. Most of the damage was caused by water from the fire-suppression system.
Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer
Hall school's students have been off this week while repairs were made.
Portland school officials said the students would remain on hiatus Monday and families will be notified by phone Monday about transportation, schedules and other details for classes at Cathedral, which will begin on Tuesday.
A forum will also be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Guild Hall next to Cathedral, when parents will be given an opportunity to go tour Cathedral school, said Peter Eglinton, chief operations officer for Portland Public Schools.
Eglinton said teachers this week got to see Cathedral, which is on Locust Street between Congress Street and Cumberland Avenue, and found it helpful to get a preview of where they will conduct classes."Seeing that and being able to imagine they could work with that environment helped," Eglinton said.
Cathedral has 14 classrooms, compared to 28 at Hall school, Eglinton said, but the rooms are bigger and most will accommodate two classes at the same time. Teachers will also be able to use an art room as a classroom, he said.
Cathedral School, which closed in the spring, is "a facility that's ready to move in(to)," he said. It's clean and all the desks are still in place, Eglinton said.
Eglinton said school officials are waiting on the results of tests to make sure the environment inside Hall school is safe for students and staff. The electrical fire set off sprinklers that caused a lot of water damage.
Initial readings after most of the repairs were made seemed acceptable, Eglinton said, but the school department is waiting on the results of samples that were sent to labs before deciding whether students and teachers can return. He said the school's insurer also conducted tests and those need to be completed before the school is reopened.
Results are expected Tuesday, he said, and will be provided to parents and staff, he said.
If those results indicate an environmental problem, he said, Cathedral parish officials have said the students and teachers from Hall can remain for a while, although Eglinton said he didn't know if there's a limit to how long they can use the school.
He said the school department will pay rent, but he wasn't involved in those negotiations and doesn't know what the school department agreed to pay.
He also said he doesn't know how much of the rent will come from the school department's insurer. Once Hall school is reopened, Eglinton said, teachers will have to adapt to the loss of two classrooms.
Those rooms, along with a resource room used primarily by teachers, will have to be gutted, he said, due to the extent of the damage.
Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: