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BENNINGTON — Mount Anthony Union High School and Southwest Tech students will have a second straight day off Tuesday because of multiple heating system leaks and subsequent water damage in the Southwest Tech side of the high school building.

“Due to the extensive work that needs to be done to remediate the flooding ... it is necessary for us to close the building again [today],” Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union Superintendent James Culkeen said. The school sent students home Monday morning when it became apparent that the building could not be occupied.

Staff should not report to the building unless otherwise instructed.

“We had a heating coil break in the Southwest Tech offices. Then we had another coil break up in one of the classrooms on the top floor,” Anthony D’Onofrio, the facilities manager for the high school campus, said. “Damage occurred from the top all the way down in quite a few areas in Southwest Tech. It’s all water damage.”

The first break occurred on Sunday, and the second followed Monday, Culkeen said earlier Monday. The more recent of two leaks affected the electrical system, including the building alarm system.

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That led officials to call the school buses back to campus and send students home Monday morning. “Without functioning alarms, it was determined not safe to have students in the building,” Culkeen said.

As a precaution, the supervisory union had fire and police presence at the school until the buses returned and students left Monday morning, Culkeen said.

Earlier this month, Culkeen told the MAU District Board of Directors that he intended to revive a study of the building’s physical needs. The school was built in the mid-to-late 1960s and is showing its age, Culkeen and Principal Tim Payne told the board.

Athletic practices were moved to alternate locations for Monday, as tryouts have begun for the winter sports season. Those practices will take place at the same locations on Tuesday, and families and athletes should check for details.

The announcement also affected students at other Bennington County schools that send students to Southwest Tech, formerly known as the Southwestern Vermont Career Development Center, for classes.

Greg Sukiennik covers government and politics for Vermont News & Media. Reach him at

Greg Sukiennik has worked at all three Vermont News & Media newspapers and was their managing editor from 2017-19. He previously worked for, for the AP in Boston, and at The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass.


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