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Thursday, October 2, 2014
Reviewing relocation and Number Six plan
District facing $4.2 million budget deficit
By Jeffrey Bessen
Jeffrey Bessen/Herald
Lawrence school district officials held a town hall meeting to discuss the relocation plan and the Number Six School. From left were middle school Principal Willis Perry, Assistant Superintendents Dr. Ann Pedersen and Pat Pizzarelli and Superintendent Gary Schall.

The relocation plan that has Lawrence High School students at the middle school and about half of the middle school students at two elementary schools because the high school is closed, along with the proposed sale of the Number Six School were discussed at the district’s town hall meeting on Feb. 14.

A chorus classroom — Room 334 — in Lawrence Middle School created an intimate setting for the get together attended by nearly a dozen parents, two Board of Education trustees and several district administrators.

Since Jan. 16, the high school has been closed due to the possibility of its electrical system becoming inoperable. The wiring was corroding due to contact with salt water in Hurricane Sandy.

In an attempt to quell a persistent community rumor, Superintendent Gary Schall said that the air quality at the high school wasn’t the reason the building was closed. It was the electrical system. Reopening the high school is a primary priority, he said, adding that Facilities Director Chris Milano is monitoring the progress daily.

“We are going back to the high school on time,” said Schall, who previously said the expected date of return is March 18. “The equipment is coming March 1 and all systems are a go.”

To date the work done at the high school has cost $2.4 million and is expected to total approximately $8 million, Schall said. By taking down some walls in offices and creating 10 classrooms at the middle school, Schall said the district saved $100,000 compared to renting portable classrooms. Trailers have been rented and are being used as meeting and office spaces at the middle school. The district has also hired a public adjustor to help handle all the Federal Emergency Management Agency claims.

There have been some problems at the middle school from overcrowding in the hallways and in the cafeteria at lunch to a lack of communication from administration to the students. “The middle school kids are being shell shocked,” said Blasia Baum, the Central PTA president. “I’m all for discipline, but the kids need to know the rules, parents need to know the rules.”

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