A plan to deal with problem windows at Scarborough’s Wentworth Intermediate School is moving forward, but students and staff may have to contend with uncomfortable temperatures and stale air for weeks.

The discovery of asbestos during the installation of storm windows this summer prompted school officials’ decision to keep the windows shut. Asbestos was present in the old window glazing and school officials feared that opening and closing the windows would make more glazing come loose.

School officials plan to replace one of the three window panels in each of the affected rooms. Each new panel, which will stretch nearly from floor to ceiling, will have double windows that can be opened and closed. The estimated cost is $150,000 for 28 window panels.

Principal Anne-Mayre Dexter said the rooms are cool at the beginning of the day because the ventilation system has been running all night. But with the rooms occupied by a couple dozen people with no chance to crack open a window, the temperature climbs, she said.

“The question really becomes, at what point does that become a decreased comfort level?” she said.

Dexter said window drapes and ventilating equipment don’t do enough for temperature control and air circulation. Teachers may bring their classes to other spaces in the building or outside for a break if they feel that’s best for their students, she said.

The Board of Education approved the window plan Thursday evening, and the Town Council expects to hold a special meeting next week about spending the money.

“It appears to me that everyone will support replacing the windows. It is a problem that needs to be addressed,” Town Council Chairwoman Carol Rancourt said.

Once all the approvals are in place, it could take six to eight weeks for the windows to arrive, Dexter said. The installation would begin immediately, she said.

The state Bureau of General Services conducted an indoor environmental assessment of the school amid concerns about air quality in the building.

According to a report received by the school district this week, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide levels were within guidelines, except for elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the portable area; particulate levels were within guidelines; walls, ceilings and floors were in very good condition and the utility tunnels were dry with no moisture or odors.

School board Chairman Brian Dell’Olio said the assessment validated earlier tests by a consultant.

“We continue to believe the occupied space is safe, but certainly fresh air needs to be provided to those classrooms,” he said.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]

 


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