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Williamstown Elementary Again Closed by Heating Issue

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — For the second time this fall, Williamstown Elementary School is closed for the day due to an issue with the heating system.

Shortly before 7 a.m. on Monday morning, the district used its "robocall" notification system to inform families of the closure.
 
Superintendent Douglas Dias said later in the morning that a leak in the school's primary boiler caused it to shut down over the weekend.
 
"Fortunately, the damage was contained to the boiler room itself, but the heat was off and there was no hot water," Dias said. "Considering the fact that the building was cool and not conducive to learning, we decided to play it safe."
 
Dias said that the building's custodian checked in on the boiler on Friday of the four-day Thanksgiving weekend and found it to be operating normally.
 
When the custodian arrived on Monday at 5 a.m., he discovered the problem.
 
Dias said that a backup boiler - known to be problematic - did not automatically kick in when the primary unit failed. He did not yet know the reason why the backup did not engage.
 
"The one that was fully functional, which is all we need, that was the one that sprung a leak," Dias said.
 
Dias said was at the school early Monday morning along with Principal Joelle Brookner and Mount Greylock Regional School Facilities Supervisor Jesse Wirtes, who came to assist. WES, Mount Greylock and Lanesborough Elementary share central administrative services, including the superintendent, under an arrangement known as the Tri-District.
 
The other two schools opened on schedule Monday morning.
 
Dias said Monday it is likely that pupils at WES -- with two heating-related closures so far this year -- will be in school two days longer than their counterparts in June, when schools make up emergency closure days, like snow days.
 
"Right now, I'm concerned about every day we miss out of school," Dias said. "[The calendars] are out of sync. At the moment, that's just the way life is. It is highly unlikely the other two schools would be closed and WES would be open [between now and the end of the school year].
 
"We have to play the hand we're dealt."
 
Dias said plumbers were on the scene Monday morning making repairs, and he anticipated a normal school day on Tuesday.
 
In October, WES was closed for one day after a leak was discovered in the pipes that carry heat through the facility.
 
Coincidentally, both closures created five-day weekends for pupils. The October closure was on the Thursday before a previously scheduled four-day weekend; WES was closed for pupils on Friday, Oct. 9, for a full day of professional development for staff.
 
Monday's closure extended the Thanksgiving weekend by an extra day.

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Mount Greylock Schools Present Improvement Plans to School Committee

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Lanesborough Elementary School is hoping to form community partnerships to help teach its pupils about sustainability.
 
The kids already are leading the way.
 
"About five weeks ago, we had a fourth-grade group start the Lanesborough Environmental Squad club," Principal Nolan Pratt said last week. "They're all about being environmentally friendly and seeing what we can do within the school.
 
"That kind of inspired this goal within the School Council. We want to reach out to community partners … and do field trips to see places working on sustainability. I believe they're putting a solar field at Skyline [Country Club] for example. Maybe we can go see how that works."
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