Hartford School to Remain Closed for Upcoming Year Over PCBs in Air

It could be longer than anticipated before a Hartford elementary and middle school is deemed safe to reopen after polychlorinated biphenyls were found in the air last winter.

The Clark School shut down and students were sent elsewhere in January after PCB chemicals were identified inside the school. This week, notices went out urging parents to make other plans for their children in place for the duration of the 2015-2016 academic year.

"We really miss them. We really do," neighbor Dollie Sutherland said of the children.

Sutherland, who has lived across the street from the school for 35 years, said it has never been as quiet as it has been since the school relocated all of its students at the beginning of 2015.

PCBs, or airborne industrial chemicals, were identified when the school began the process of installing a new sprinkler system.

"I’m hoping they hurry up and get this building fixed so the kids can be back here," said Sutherland.

It could take longer than anyone initially thought. Two of Melissa Howard's grandchildren should be attending Clark, their neighborhood school, but instead must attend classes further away at Milner Elementary School.

"If it could be a little bit easier and be right here, it would be wonderful but sacrifices have to be made and I have to transport them to Milner for the next year than that’s what I’ll have to do," said Howard.

Howard said she is relieved the air quality safety issues are being addressed but hoped it would be happening at a quicker pace.

"Everybody’s job is hard and it’s hectic and with funding cuts and those sorts of things, but at the same time, you have to realize you are working with people and I think that should be their first priority," Howard said.

The superintendent's office said it will continue providing the "best possible educational environment" during Clark's temporary relocation.

The School Building Committee, which is in charge of the Clark School project, said it is making progress but still has not solidified a date for reopening the school.

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