SOUTH PORTLAND — Memorial Middle School is expected to welcome back students and staff members Wednesday after school officials successfully addressed a boiler breakdown that closed the building for several days before the holiday break.

“The boilers are operating and heat has been reliable throughout the break,” Superintendent Ken Kunin said in an email to the school community Monday afternoon.

Kunin credited maintenance staff and others for their hard work and support since Memorial’s boiler room was found to be flooded early Monday, Dec. 17, and students were asked to stay home for the day.

Students were invited back that Tuesday, but persistent boiler problems and heating oil odors caused the district to close the school Wednesday through Friday.

“We have continued to ventilate the building from the odor that caused discomfort,” Kunin wrote. “The December break has been a big help and in general there is no remaining odor in any classrooms or around the building.”

Kunin said maintenance staff will continue to ventilate the school and monitor air quality to make sure the odor doesn’t return.

Kunin said the total cost of the school shutdown has yet to be tallied, but replacing the oil burners on the building’s two boilers would cost at least $15,000 each. “Hopefully (it) will be covered by insurance,” he said.

Kunin also said Memorial’s 375 students won’t be required to make up the lost school days. The students missed three days of school – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – because of the boiler problem.

The school was closed Thursday as well, but sixth-graders attended a half-day of classes at South Portland High School, while seventh- and eighth-graders attended a scheduled performance of “A Christmas Carol” at Portland Stage.

During the boiler breakdown, Kunin said air quality tests by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection indicated “that the building is safe to occupy, but the odor in the areas it is occurring is uncomfortable and can be an irritant for some people.”

Memorial is one of two aging middle schools in the city that would be replaced by a proposed $50 million consolidated middle school planned for the Memorial site at 120 Wescott Road. The project would be funded by the Maine Department of Education.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

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