It’s been a year since bacteria-related E. coli was found in the wells of two Windham schools.
It cost the district three days of school last year. It also frustrated parents.
While the school year is under way, the construction work to replace the wells remains incomplete.
Tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars were requested by the Windham School District from the state to get the project done quickly.
Officials said it’s still a month away from being finished.
Just a couple of days into the 2014 school year, students were greeted by trash bags over fountains and canceled classes at the Windham Center School.
Back then, tests found traces of coliform bacteria, which officials said is closely related to E. coli, which can sicken people.
They said it was enough for the district to close Windham Center three times while tests were performed.
“We sanitized the wells which brought them back to acceptable health department standards," said Wayne Donaldson, director of maintenance, Windham schools.
Donaldson headed the effort to get money for the new wells.
Loose or broken pipes were suspected to causing the contamination, through school officials said no one actually became sick.
The school reopened for 2015 and the year began without a hitch, except, according to school officials, when it came to getting the wells replaced.
“There [were] delays because of the health department,” Donaldson said. “They needed to view the well sites because of all the snow on the ground. They couldn't see the surrounding areas so we had to wait until the snow was off the ground to get final approval from them."
Construction continued as of Monday at both Windham Center and North Windham Elementary School.
A trench dug to put in piping has been mostly filled at Windham Center. Crews are putting the finishing touches on it.
The price tag for both wells totaled $250,000.
Donaldson said the state is expected to reimburse the town for nearly 80 percent of the cost.
School officials said the water was fine for the start of school; however, the project’s completion will add more than just water.
“[It’s] peace of mind and safety,” said Kathy Goodwin, principal of Windham Center. “Keeping the kids safe, making sure parents are reassured that we have what we need to run a safe school."
The well work is expected to be completed in October.
After that will be another round of water quality tests the results of which parents and school leaders hope come back clean.
The district still doesn't know what caused the contamination in the first place, but feels the project will alleviate the problem.
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