Students return to school damaged by cold, asbestos

ORANGE, Conn. (WTNH) — The first day of school at the Peck Place School in Orange looked normal, but nothing has been normal about this school in the last year.

In the record cold of January, pipes burst just inside the door, flooding the school. Even worse, it uncovered asbestos around pipes and in floor tiles.

“We did new ceilings, new lighting, new flooring,” said Director of Facilities Mike Luzzi. “There are new univents that are split air conditioning and heat. There’s a brand new roof structure on this building.”

While all that construction was going on, the kids needed somewhere to go. Yale stepped up and invited the school to use its West Campus – formerly the Bayer Pharmaceuticals campus in West Haven. The University even threw sixth graders an Ivy League-style graduation in June.

Since then, crews spent the summer making sure the old building would be ready for today. In some classrooms, they installed the shelves and counters just in the past few days, meaning teachers had to really hustle to get their rooms ready.

“I think the students and the staff and the community have seen that real work can be done when everyone works together,” said Peck Place School Principal Eric Carbone.

While the school is fully functional, there are a couple of things the construction crews didn’t quite finish. There is a full day of school today, then Wednesday, Thursday and Friday students will go home a few hours early. That will give the construction folks time to finish that list of things still left to do, what they call a punch list. While the gym might still have piles of boxes on one end, the lesson here is life if full of obstacles you have to overcome.

“It’s been an experience unlike any I’ve ever had,” said Carbone. “I’m still standing so I guess I’m stronger for it.”

The school is stronger for it too. This is not the way anyone would chose to do it, but the result is a complete school renovation that the facilities manager says should be good for another 20 years.

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