I am unable to attend the special meeting scheduled for this week regarding the high school construction issues. I would, however, like to share my position regarding hiring an independent engineer to inspect the high school. I would like my comments to be part of the public record.

After last Thursday’s marathon board meeting, I was left with the impression that a substantial amount of repairs and corrections were conducted in the weeks that followed the public concerns raised by councilors Jeff Messer and Bob Patch. This is a good thing, though I believe it was hardly coincidental.

I find it difficult to make a determination on many of the issues that were addressed by Pizzagalli and Harriman. The problem is that the photograph’s presented are only capturing “a moment in time” therefore, the question becomes which moment in time can we best rely upon in making a determination of quality or safety?

Several times I heard an acknowledgement by Pizzagalli that mistakes were made or damages did occur such as twisted window trim in the grand entrance and dents on door frames. I don’t recall any explanation of why several doors are currently still out of plum. Clearly, there is still problem with leaks since I have seen wet or stained ceiling tiles as recently as the last rain storm; and does it matter if it’s the plumbing versus the roof?

There have been at least two occurrences of mold, one of which was quickly addressed by cutting it out of the wallboard; is that all there is or should we be concerned about future mold issues in the many areas that were not tested by the air quality consultant?

I have decided that my concerns can best be summarized as follows –

There are purely cosmetic issues, which ultimately impact the quality of the product. I have to believe the citizens that supported this $27 million project, and even those who did not, would expect that we at least confirm that we are getting what we paid for.

The second concern is the question of structural integrity, not so much with the potential of a floor or wall collapsing, but rather how long can we expect to have this building based on the acknowledgement of the mistakes that were made. I heard about the hardship the weather presented and about the time constraint that resulted from an aggressive schedule. I can attest to the fact that rushing a task weakens the end product. So, what does the future beyond all the warrantees hold for this building?

Most of us on the board admit we are not engineers or contractors, hence we find ourselves totally out of our element. I feel strongly that we have a responsibility to have an independent third party come in and make a determination regarding safety and reliability; a second opinion, if you will.

I am not making any negative assertions about the contractor or the architect, I am merely admitting that I do not have the requisite knowledge to look our taxpayers in the eye and say with complete confidence that they are getting what they paid for. I am disappointed that we have to even consider paying more money towards this project.

I campaigned on a platform of school safety and responsible spending on needs and not wants; the high school construction issues fall within both of these priorities. The independent engineer is needed to ensure Scarborough is getting exactly what they paid for-nothing more, nothing less. I very much appreciate that when I asked the architect and the construction management team if they were supportive of their work being reviewed by an independent third party they acknowledged that they would.

It is clearly in everyone’s best interest that this project be reviewed independently. It matters little to me how these issues came to us on the board, it is more important that we take them seriously and protect our interest; which is, the safety of our students and the protection of our asset.

A final comment –

I have heard and even read comments in the local newspapers from parents who have been in the high school and feel the school is absolutely beautiful and are rather incensed that we are questioning this project. I would like those parents to appreciate how seriously we take the safety of their children and the value of their dollar. Unless they have X-ray vision or are themselves contractors or engineers, it can be difficult to understand what is behind those walls.

Linda Gordius

Scarborough Board of Education

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