Barkell elementary undergoing repairs, students return to classes

HANCOCK — Students in Hancock Schools were back in the classrooms Tuesday, though some temporary changes are in place while repair work continues at Barkell Elementary. Last Thursday, a portion of the roof collapsed under the weight of heavy ice and snow, causing all schools in the Hancock District to dismiss students early and cancel classes for Friday and Monday.

In the aftermath of a last week’s roof collapse, The Hancock Public School board was briefed last night and also heard from civil engineers, and reviewed the state inspector’s report. School officials believed classes would have resumed yesterday, but additional issues with the building, were discovered.

“In the review on Friday, the state inspector said that we could go ahead and reoccupy the building,” said Kipp Beaudoin, Superintendent of Hancock Public Schools. “And then in double checking, they reassessed it and said we could not. That really put us out because we had made no lateral plans as a place to conduct school. We reached out and the Old Apostolic church which is at the end of the block from us, opened their doors to us and so we certainly jumped at that opportunity. The Church of the Resurrection also offered space to us to use, so we have some options. We have the luxury of just good people in the community helping us.”

At the regular meeting of the  Board of Education, Operations and Maintenance Manager Robert Brunet explained that defaults in the trusses of the roof were found and need to be shored up before students could be allowed in elementary building.

“Our goal is to have occupancy right after spring break,” said Beaudoin. “I think we’re well on our way as I think you heard from Mr. Meyette from OHM. The contractors in the community have just really stepped up to the plate and are coming in to help us rectify the issue and also to help us to make sure that everything is absolutely up to par when the students return. We’re certainly looking at coming back from spring break and being able to occupy it and get back to teaching as normal.”

While students had the day off yesterday, school faculty and many community members spent the day making preparations for the rest of the week leading up  spring break.

“The teachers were working today to get materials down there, and make sure that they had everything they needed,” Beaudoin said. “Coordinated with cooks today, make sure that we can serve meals, breakfast, and all those pieces. So those were all of the logistics so we’ll be good for the rest of the week so we’re very excited about that.

Today, repair crews worked in full force to repair the building. Most of the work is expected to be completed by the end of the week with contractors wrapping things up while students are on Spring Break the following week.

The final repairs to the section of the building damaged when the roof collapsed will take place over the summer, with that area closed off for the time being.

“It’s very humbling how kind people are. We are very appreciative.”