Wednesday June 26, 2013

GUILFORD -- Even after the final middle-school class left earlier this month, changes continue at Guilford Central School.

That includes changes related to the exit of Guilford's seventh- and eighth-graders, who will be tuitioned to Brattleboro Area Middle School starting this fall.

But it also includes a major asbestos-removal project that will restrict access to some portions of the building starting July 1. Work will take at least four weeks, and possibly more, Principal John Gagnon said.

"You never really know until you start taking the asbestos out," Gagnon said.

Town voters in March authorized the school board to finance up to $50,000 to remove the hazardous construction material, which is in pipe wrapping and ceiling tiles in some areas of the building.

Officials at one point had thought the project would require the complete closure of the school for a month. But Gagnon said the work now is planned for three stages, allowing teachers and administrators to use portions of the building throughout the summer.

"While one part of the building is closed, another will be open," he said.

When the building reopens for the 2013-14 school year, there will be fewer students and staff due to the BAMS tuitioning agreement. School board members are looking into establishing a preschool in the building's empty classrooms, but that is a long-term project.

In the short-term, however, there are other issues. One is the future of the Guilford Gazette, a community newsletter that had been produced by Guilford's eighth-graders as part of their curriculum.

The Gazette came out three times each school year, was mailed to all Guilford residents and dated to the 1990s.

"If the paper's going to continue, we won't be doing it," Gagnon said.

There has been talk about volunteers coming forward to keep the Gazette going, Gagnon said. But at this point, there are no firm plans.

Also at issue is Guilford's official town website, which had originated as a collaboration between the school and the town. Officials said community members had been contributing to the site, but a departing teacher and the central school's eighth-graders also had continued to work on it.

Town Administrator Katie Buckley said she recently received notice that the town website -- www.guilfordschool.org, where there is a "town office" link to municipal information -- was scheduled to shut down as of last Thursday.

"The idea of the (website) disappearing altogether was kind of sudden," Buckley said, adding that "there's a fair number of people who have gotten used to reading minutes and watching the video online."

Buckley said she contacted the school and asked that the site continue until Guilford's new, official site -- for which the Selectboard recently contracted with a Minneapolis company called GovOffice -- is ready later this year.

"Our website isn't ready to go live yet. We just signed the contract with GovOffice," Buckley said. "We've been talking about what types of content need to go on there and gathering all sorts of information."

Gagnon confirmed that the current town site will continue to be maintained until the fall.

"My knowledge is that the website is going to stay up through the summer, and then the town will have to have its own website," he said.

The school's online presence will not be affected by the change, Gagnon said.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.