Woodland Elementary School Needs Improvements

By Dorothy Johnson

In January of 2016 the Baileyville School Committee contacted Stephen Blatt Architects, a company out of Portland, to do a facilities study of the Baileyville school buildings. Representatives of the company visited the facilities that same month and in February the two entities signed a Letter of Understanding. The stakeholders agreed on six elements to be evaluated, two of which (Enrollment Projection Study and  Consequences of Withdrawal from AOS 90) were subcontracted to other companies/individuals specifically Planning Decision, Inc and Dr. Mark Eastman.

Stephen Blatt Architects brought consulting engineers on the evaluation in the area of mechanical, electrical, civil and structural areas. The visiting team also met with administrators and custodial personnel, studied site and floor plans and any previous reports from others (I.E. employee reports and accreditation reports). A detailed report on their findings was presented to the school department in April of 2016.

Their report stated, “We have concluded that, among the numerous physical plant issues extant in facilities of this vintage (1955-65), several issues at each building deserve prompt attention, as they affect life safety and other code compliance, air quality, energy efficiency and the literal comfort of students and staff.”

This study has caused consternation and continuous discussion at the school committee level.  Because students’ “life safety” and some “code compliances” are at issue, the school committee is working on solutions to the problems in a timely manner.  Because of the cost of repairs or replacements to both facilities, this decision does not rest wholly with the committee.  The town council, tax payers and of course, the mill will have to buy into the solutions.

Concentrating on the elementary school, these are the findings of Stephen Blatt Architects:  

The school is located at the bottom of a drainage swale and the entire site has poor drainage which causes flooding in the play areas and excess water runs toward the building. (Note: This will not be a surprise to the residents who used the area for a skating rink in the early 50s.)

Poor ground conditions because of poor drainage are causing moisture problems and the gradual sinking of the floor. “Floors have dropped over half an inch below the walls between classrooms.” This could be “fixed” by intensive floor drilling and the injection of a material below the slab to prevent further settling.  If this solution is chosen, “The floor ties are likely to contain asbestos.” The removal of the asbestos would be a problem because of moisture issues.

The outside of the building is “very inefficient due to the type, installation and deterioration of original materials.”  A great deal of heat is being lost through “rusted, steel-framed, single-paned glazed classroom exterior walls,” doors do not fit tightly and do not operate properly, “attic insulation is poorly placed, compacted or absent” causing heat loss and ice build –up on the roof. (Note:  Residents will remember the elementary school roof was replaced when Mr. Doug Deegan was superintendent and Mrs. Marble was principal. Woodland students were housed in the former Princeton Elementary School.)

“The building’s heating system is near the end of its useful life and no longer efficient.  A second oil-fired boiler for back-up should be added.  The hot water distribution should be replaced” as well as “unit ventilators, the mechanical unit serving the gym.   Mechanical system controls should be upgraded to a Direct Digital Control system.”

Lastly, interior lighting is inadequate. The lighting provided by the older florescent fixtures is “not conducive to a good learning environment.” Lighting should be brought up to date with LED fixtures.

The projected cost of the repairs, replacements and restructuring at the Woodland Elementary School is listed at one million, three hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($1,350,000). This amount will be considered for approval, but the town will still have an aging building constructed on a swamp.


In another article we will look at problems discovered at the junior/senior high school and the cost.