hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

School News

February 13, 2014

12 years old, but just like new

Nettle's secret: Jumping on repairs quickly

It’s been 12 years since Nettle Middle School was rebuilt with $17 million from the state.

But state officials say it’s still looking and acting like it did when the job was completed.

What is the secret to keeping Nettle in such good shape when other public buildings sometimes deteriorate in the period of a decade and then need major repairs?

The key is jumping on small problems before they become big ones, school officials said.

Whether it’s a leaky roof or a leaky boiler, problems at the Nettle are quickly fixed, officials said. It’s part of the school’s successful maintenance program that keeps it looking and operating like new 12 years after its reconstruction.

The Nettle was recently visited by David Troughton, regional assistance director for the Northeast District & School Assistance Center at the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Troughton told Nettle Principal Mike Rossi that he was impressed with the condition of the school, which appeared to be “like new,” he said.

“The school secretary took me from the front office to the library and the library was spacious,” Troughton said. “A staff meeting was underway in the library and groups of teachers were working at tables throughout the library. I saw attractive displays of student work and there was an obvious pride in the school. The dismissal was orderly. Despite the snow and cold weather, the walkways were shoveled and sand was in place on icy spots.”

Troughton’s center helps communities and their schools use professional development to improve instruction and raise achievement for students.

Tom Geary, supervisor of facilities for Haverhill schools, said the key to keeping Nettle and other school buildings in good shape is keeping an eye out for problems and reporting them immediately.

Geary said Nettle custodians follow specific building maintenance procedures that include periodic inspections of roofs, basements, heating and cooling systems, windows, doors and the grounds. He said they look for deficiencies such as a door that isn’t working properly, a roof that’s leaking and inoperative lighting fixtures.

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