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Sixth graders at shuttered Northport Middle School relocating to Norwood

Northport Middle School.

Northport Middle School. Credit: Ian J. Stark

All sixth-graders at Northport Middle School will be relocated to Norwood Avenue Elementary School when their classes resume, said Superintendent Rob Banzer Monday in a letter to parents and the community.

Officials on Saturday ordered the Middleville Road campus closed for the rest of the year after tests showed it was located near septic systems and a cesspool containing chemicals that could be causing several ailments.

Initially, the sixth graders were to be divided between Norwood Avenue and Bellerose Avenue elementary schools.

But in his note, Superintendent Rob Banzer wrote Monday that area residents said they were dismayed at the plan to break up the six graders when relocating them from Northport Middle School. Ranzer said those students will now remain together once classes resume.

“The greatest concern that I have received since announcing the relocation of students from Northport Middle School is that the entire sixth grade class would not be together,” Banzer's letter said. “Yesterday, the administrative staff spent a great deal of time working through this issue and we have come up with a revised plan. After carefully reviewing classroom space utilization at Norwood Elementary and deciding to relocate the Investigate Program to Bellerose again, we are able to keep the entire Northport Middle School 6th Grade together.”

School was closed Monday in observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and classes are canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday as administrators work out logistics of the relocation plan for students and staff, including scheduling, transportation and meals for the 660 sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

The school had drawn complaints of foul, nausea-inducing odors that were linked to chronic health problems among students, teachers and staff, including migraines, nosebleeds, sinus and lung infections as well as general fatigue.

Plans for the relocation were put in place after PW Grosser Consulting Inc., an environmental firm, detected elevated levels of mercury in a cesspool outside of G-51, an adjacent classroom that has been unoccupied since Dec. 10 due to "moisture-related" odors.

Also, the firm’s tests found higher levels of benzene in soil samples from two different septic systems on the southern and eastern sides of the school that will require remediation, officials said.

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