Mayor Ted Bettencourt says the wait is over for windows at the Burke School.
The first shipment of the custom, energy-saving windows finally arrived Oct. 12 and are in the process of being installed in the rear of the building, which could take up to six weeks all told. Bettencourt said construction continues on the same 3-11 p.m. schedule.
But up until a week ago, that phase of the construction project at the West Peabody elementary school had dragged on for nearly a year, much to the dismay of school officials and parents.
The initial hitch to installation of the new windows came after testing last fall revealed that PCB levels present in old window caulking were higher than environmental safety guidelines for children. As a result, all classrooms on the second floor were cleared out in January and everyone crammed into the first floor for the rest of the year.
That situation continued this school year and delivery of the windows was met with multiple delays.
At their Oct. 11 meeting, School Committee members, in fact, publicly chastised the firm Graham Architectural for another delay, doubly annoyed because no one from the company showed up to explain the situation despite being requested to do so.
The issue was brought up again by Brandi Carpenter, who is a Burke parent.
"There was another delay. I did ask that a representative be present at this meeting, but he was unable to come,” she said, and colleague Jarrod Hochman shared her "disappointment" at the company's absence that evening.
Superintendent of Schools Joseph Mastrocola said he had enough and threatened to file a complaint with the consumer protection division of the Attorney General's office.
"I'm appalled at this...I'm appalled at the behavior of Graham Architectural," said Mastrocola, adding he did, however, have "full confidence" in project contractor Jim Lambrianidis.
"Our community has waited too long for this," he said. Mastrocola said he would demand the firm appear for the committee's next meeting.
He said he would confer with the city's purchasing agent and school business manager on a possible complaint, but Bettencourt says that likely won't happen after all now with progress finally being made.
The firm is scheduled to appear before the School Committee Tuesday night to provide an update on the project.
As for the concerns over PCBs, further tests will be done to ensure acceptable levels before students and teachers return to the second-floor classrooms.
The committee meets in regular session at 7:30 p.m. at the Kiley School.