RUMFORD – The half-century-old boilers at Virginia Elementary School blew up last week, prompting SAD 43 to come up with an emergency replacement at a cost of $17,000 .

Superintendent Danny Michaud told school board Monday that the explosion scattered soot around much of the school as materials seeped through the ventilation system. The mess was cleaned up before students returned from spring vacation Monday.

A so-called Pony boiler was installed as a temporary measure.

“If this had been December or January, that wouldn’t work,” he said, because the small boiler would have been unable to provide sufficient heat. The small boiler will provide enough hot water to continue the hot lunch program and enough heat to finish out the school year.

Board members have been discussing whether to buy one or two new boilers for the 52-year-old school as they have developed the 2003-2004 budget. The boilers that blew up were installed when the school was built. The cost for their replacement has been estimated at about $120,000.

Michaud said the boiler issue could reopen the question of whether to close the small elementary school.

Also on Monday, the board learned of the resignations of high school science teacher Arthur Libby and middle school bus driver/custodian Paul Arsenault.

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