Harford school ready to open after passing fire safety tests

September 12, 1993|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

Fallston Middle students are scheduled to start school tomorrow, two weeks late.

The school, at Route 152 and Carrs Mill Road, failed a critical fire safety inspection Aug. 23 and was not finished by the Aug. 30 school opening date. That inspection, by a state fire marshal, found seven fire safety violations. Most were due to incomplete construction.

Allen L. Ward, deputy chief fire marshal, said his office was satisfied with tests made late last week of the sprinkler system, fire alarm system and emergency generators that provide lighting and power during a fire. Other fire safety concerns, such as missing ceiling tiles and interior smoke doors, had also been taken care of, Mr. Ward said.

Teachers were allowed to begin preparing their classrooms Thursday, said F. Thomas Pomilla, principal of Fallston Middle School.

He said the nine-day delay has been a blessing for teachers. "There had been a real fear among the staff that they would be setting up their classrooms at the same time the students were coming into the school."

Teachers at the 116,000-square-foot-school reported for work Aug. 30, and used the time to conduct staff meetings and to develop team teaching ideas, Mr. Pomilla said. The teachers held their planning sessions at Fallston High School, adjacent to the middle school. There are 52 staff members at the middle school, including teachers, counselors, assistant principal and other professional staff, he said.

Students will be excused from four of the nine days of school they missed, according to the State Board of Education. Teachers agreed to work during five of their 10 annual days devoted to training or school meetings so that students could make up the remaining time, Mr. Pomilla said. Normally, students are not required to attend school on those days.

The gymnasium wing of the building, which includes industrial arts, choir and band rooms, is still under construction and will probably open in October, Mr. Pomilla said.

Students will be able to eat in the cafeteria, but the kitchen will not be usable because the school's water supply won't be tested by tomorrow. Signs will be posted telling students not to drink water from fountains, Mr. Pomilla said.

The school system will provide students with bottled water and bagged lunches.

Mr. Pomilla said the school, which can accommodate 900 students, will open with 850 to 875 students.

Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann and other elected officials have criticized Triangle General Contractors Inc., the Hanover-based company that is building the $10.9 million school, for failing to have it open on time. The school was to have been completed July 15.

Triangle's contract includes a $1,500-a-day late penalty.

But Triangle's lawyer, William M. Huddles, has blamed the fault of the county government and the school system.

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