City and school leaders in Lowell, Massachusetts said Lowell High School will reopen on Monday and every aspect of the heating system has been inspected and is safe.
“We don’t want to cut any corners when it comes to the safety and well being of our students,” Lowell City Manager Eileen Donoghue said at the Friday news conference.
Crews spent the last week inspecting the aging heating system after several gas leaks were detected in the field house, prompting administrators to close the school for three days prior to April break.
Lowell Fire Chief Jeff Winward says people in the building were not at risk.
“There were never any dangerous levels of gas in any of the buildings at the high school. Only a small amount,” Winward said.
The city said three gas units at the high school will be replaced at a cost of $255,000, but the city manager stressed that in the long-term they need a new high school in Lowell.
“We can no longer put band-aids on this system. We can longer try and replace parts - that has been done,” Donoghue said.
The news conference was held amid calls for students to have a new school building and questions about what other problems exist in the building.
"Give them a new school already," Ann Draper, the mother of a Lowell High School student, said.
Lowell High School was built in 1920, with later additions in 1980.
The city is now looking at the option to renovate and add to the existing campus on Father Morissette Boulevard, rather than build a new school in the suburbs.
The estimated cost for the project in the city is $350 million.
"That's what I think has to be addressed, is not what whether it should be remodeled or be a new school, but are we getting a proper education for our kids," Lowell resident Paul Dunfey said.
A spokesperson for Mayor William Samaras said he did not have time to meet with NBC10 Boston earlier this week. However, according to the Lowell Sun, Mayor Samaras said parents are "attempting to scuttle the building of any high school."
Tammie Heartquist has a freshman in the school and calls the mayor's claim "absolutely ridiculous."
"We have a daughter that is in seventh grade and we are strongly considering other options for her, which is very sad because she's also been in Lowell Public Schools since kindergarten," said Heartquist.
Parents told NBC10 Boston they would agree to pay more in taxes if it meant building a new school.