in Braintree has relied on the same electrical, heating and air conditioning systems since its mortar dried in 1961. The school's windows, too, are in "serious need of repair," according to a report submitted to the on Tuesday night by superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg.
Much-needed updates at East Middle and Braintree's eight other public schools were given a push forward by the council when members voted 7-0 (councilors Henry Joyce and Ronald DeNapoli were absent) to authorize Kurzberg to present detailed reports on each school to the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
The submission happens once every few years, Kurzberg said, and does not mandate action by the town or the SBA. It instead provides the authority with an idea of what the town intends to spend money on, which may be reimbursed in part by the state.
Council president Charles Ryan voiced support for the plans, particularly at East Middle, which was highlighted as a "district priority" and is where his two sons have gone to school.
"I'm very excited," Ryan said.
Following 's selection as a priority in the past, and its recently completed renovations – $3 million in upgrades to windows, heating, lights and more – East Middle is now in line for a conversion from steam to hot water heating, an electrical overhaul, and new windows that were included in a .
Braintree will soon see $1.6 million in reimbursement from the SBA for the South Middle project, Kurzberg said, and will receive more money as new construction is completed elsewhere.
The reports approved on Tuesday include renovations at all nine Braintree schools, focusing heavily on electrical and other mechanical systems. Elevators for handicap access are also needed at several buildings, including , , and elementary schools. But those renovations are not currently funded, and will require further approval from the town and state governments.
No new schools have been built in Braintree since 1972. In recent years, overcrowding has become a system-wide issue, .
"The Braintree Public Schools has severe overcrowding now," the report said. "With the construction that is seen throughout our town, the Town of Braintree must begin a plan to add additional classroom space before a significant number of new residents and their children move into this new housing."
In other business, councilor Paul "Dan" Clifford asked that Mayor Joseph Sullivan present to the council on Feb. 15 a year-to-date town budget review so that members can prepare for the next fiscal year's appropriations, which take effect on July 1. Sullivan is scheduled to present a "State of the Town" report to the council at its next meeting on Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at .
Considering the continued tough economic conditions in Massachusetts and throughout the country, and looming local aid cuts because of the state's budget gap, Clifford said he'd like to look carefully at the 2011 fiscal year for savings and identify gaps to fill for 2012.
"The economy is fragile," Clifford said. "State aid is all but certain to decrease again. Stimulus money is gone... It's not a pretty picture."
Also, councilor Charles Kokoros said he was working with the mayor on a meeting, to be held sometime in February or early March, about the abuse of the pain reliever Oxycontin.
"This is a town-wide collaboration," he said. "We want to do what we can to protect the youth of Braintree."
Stay tuned to Braintree Patch later this week for a more detailed story on school building needs.