North Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Instead of a snow day, it was a “wind” day for students at North Syracuse’s Gillette Road Middle School because of construction issues. The school says there’s a danger of window panels falling out of the walls and into classrooms when winds reach 75 miles per hour.
It’s been eight years since construction finished. So why haven’t the problems been fixed? That’s the question many parents are now asking.
“Do not put the children at risk in the school at all, not even for a day until the situation is fixed,” said Gillette Road Middle School parent Karen Paglia.
It’s because district and State Education Department officials say there is no safety concern until winds reach that 75 mile per hour mark. The school put in a wind-emergency plan two years ago, and part of that plan is to send students home when winds reach 50 miles per hour.
The school is in the middle of litigation with many contractors who worked on the major construction project eight year ago. If they were to fix the walls before that lawsuit settled, they may not be able to prove which contractor has to pay for the faulty renovations and those costs could end up being the responsibility of taxpayers.
“What we don't want to do is spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money to fix a problem that we don't think immediately is causing a safety problem and so we'd rather get that millions of dollars from the contractors and their insurance companies - whatever the process is - so we can do the proper repair and not have it cost taxpayers any money,” said Associate Superintendent for Business Services Don Keegan.
Forensic architects and the head of grounds maintenance inspected the walls on Thursday from the inside of the building to monitor whether winds caused any more structural damage. If they do find anything, kids will be kept out of school until the issue is resolved.
“Good enough for them is not good enough for our children. We need safe schools. They shouldn't have to worry about what's going to happen when the wind blows while they're doing tests,” Paglia continued.
The North Syracuse School District plans to hold a meeting with Gillette Road Middle School parents as soon as they have new information about the lawsuit with contractors. They hope that will be within the next two months.