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Union calls for action after Somerville school closed due to falling concrete




Infrastructure problems have plagued the school for years, according to the Somerville Educators Union.

After the Winter Hill Community Innovation School in Somerville closed Friday due to falling concrete, the Somerville Educators Union is calling for action, according to a statement.

In a letter to students Friday, school officials said there would be an emergency shutdown of the school building “out of an abundance of caution” after a piece of concrete was found having fallen from the ceiling in a stairwell by staff, according to officials.

This particular K-8 school in Somerville, the city’s only “innovation school,” is no stranger to infrastructure problems, according to a statement from the union.


These problems have included floods, leaks, falling ceiling tiles, rodent infestations, broken windows, a broken HVAC system, a broken elevator, and “much more,” the union said.  

“For the last three years, educators and school community members have been raising these concerns, but the city’s response has been slow,” read the statement. 

This publicly funded school has a focus on students with autism and recent immigrants. As an “innovation school,” the institution has more control over its curriculum and even its dress code, which was student-approved, according to WBUR. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the K-8 students were unable to use the school building due to its “unsafe air quality” and were learning out of Somerville High School, according to the new outlet.

However, with Somerville High students occupying the building now there don’t appear to be any other facilities in Somerville to relocate Winter Hill students should a more long-term closure become necessary, according to WBUR.

“To be in this position again … I’m feeling frustrated. We’ve been asking [city leaders] for contingency plans and for timelines and haven’t really gotten much,” Kara Dodd, an 8th-grade special education teacher told WBUR. 

Earlier this spring, Winter Hill community members raised concerns about the physical conditions of the school including mouse droppings, walls crumbling, and 90-degree conditions inside classrooms, according to the new outlet.


Members of the union, families of students who attend Winter Hill, and other members of the community gathered at the Somerville Public Library Friday to write and hand deliver letters to the mayor detailing their concerns about the timeline of funding and actionable change. 

Their actionable change requests included short-term repairs and a new school building for Winter Hill, according to the statement.

“Today’s day of action shows that educators, the PTA, and the larger school community are united in the efforts to rebuild the Winter Hill School. Somerville has the financial resources to meet this moment; this is an opportunity to build the first carbon-neutral school in Somerville and to work toward a sustainable future for the city,” said Somerville Educators Union Vice President Dayshawn Simmons, according to the statement. 

“We’re working on that … we’ll get it to people as soon as possible,” Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne told WBUR.

Source: Boston Globe


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