By Alan Burke Staff writer
The Salem News
---- — PEABODY — The last of the Burke School windows is “on the road,” a representative from the supplier told an unhappy School Committee last night.
The first shipment of windows, originally scheduled for delivery in August, was rescheduled multiple times before arriving in mid-October.
“As you can tell,” Mayor Ted Bettencourt told Mark Hiscock of Graham Architectural Products of York, Pa., “there’s a great deal of frustration.”
He cited a year and a half of problems.
Contractor Jim Lambrianidis estimated that students will be allowed back in some classrooms as early as “late next week” after the windows are installed. Some are currently relegated to the cafeteria and gym. The rear windows could be completed in two or three weeks.
“The entire rear elevation can be given back to the school,” Lambrianidis said.
Hiscock told the board that the delay was due to the fact that the windows represented a complex product where any single change resulted in a cascade of changes. If the 51 windows had been delivered in August as promised, he said, “We’d have windows that didn’t fit. ... I guess our fault ... is not clearly explaining that process.”
Explaining it now failed to satisfy the board. Member Brandi Carpenter asked Hiscock if his company had done work for schools in the past.
“The great bulk of our work is school work,” he replied.
“So you know the importance of getting this work done in the summer. ... A lot of people in that building took our word. We continually had to go back and tell them, ‘They’re not here. They’re not here.’ ... Did you see all the children sitting in the cafeteria?”
Committee member Dave McGeney asked if the windows would have gotten to Peabody faster if they’d been a cash penalty in the case of a late arrival.
“No,” Hiscock replied.
“You hesitated,” McGeney said before suggesting that the board had learned a lesson about getting such deliveries on time.
Member Jarrod Hochman prodded that the only thing that might compensate the city for the delay is a donation from Graham Products to the Welch School playground fund. Hiscock made no reply to this idea.
The mayor praised the parents, students, teachers and staff at Burke School for bearing with the delays.
“The Burke School is going to look great,” Bettencourt said, before adding, “My children go there.”
The delay was all the more frustrating because the window project came in the wake of revelations that caulking in the school had contained worrisome levels of PCBs, suspected of causing cancer.