Tour points out Guilford school’s faults

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
Feb. 8, 2008

GUILFORD — Principal Rick Misenti led about 100 people on a tour of what he called a “tired” and “antiquated” building at Guilford High School Thursday night.

During visits to classrooms, offices, the gymnasium and the cafeteria, Misenti pointed out problems with air quality, insulation, flooding and the lack of space. Only one of the six fans in the gymnasium’s ceiling is working, he noted. A boys’ restroom, one of three in the school, has only two stalls, one urinal and one sink. Several offices and a special education classroom are in converted closets.

“Because the building’s undersized, we’ve had to find every place we could to house our students,” Misenti said.

School officials say that two of the district’s buildings, Guilford High School and Elisabeth C. Adams Middle School, may be in need of major renovation or replacement. A community task force has been meeting for nearly four years to review the school facilities, and is scheduled to present construction options to the Board of Education Feb. 27.

Misenti said that the high school needs ongoing Band-Aid repairs, like roofing where there are leaks and new boards in the gymnasium where the floor periodically caves in because of “spongy” concrete underneath.

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella said earlier Thursday that both schools need other work, but he thinks the district will hold off on decisions about those until there is a plan in place about large-scale construction.

“If a project passes for either one of the schools, you don’t want to go back in and redo work that you’ve spent a lot of time and money doing,” Forcella said. “It really has an impact on what maintenance projects we will do for the next several years because it just doesn’t make sense to do things twice.”

He added that major renovations on the schools would probably not begin for at least two years.

Both schools have security issues, with the administrative offices removed from the main entrances. The layout of the high school makes it easier in many cases for students to go outside the building to get from one class to another, which Forcella also highlighted as a safety concern.

And, at Adams, Forcella said that pressing maintenance issues include the persistent flooding in the school’s basement, which had to be evacuated earlier this year after officials found black mold there.

Guilford High School was built in the 1957 and most recently renovated in 1999. The main portion of the middle school is more than 70 years old.

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