Three years ago, Mayor Domenic Sarno put a school renovation plan in place.
Now, that plan is not only saving the city money, it appears it is making students healthier.
With a school committee member and city officials by his side, Springfield Superintendent Daniel Warwick toured Duggan Middle School on Thursday morning. In the past year, the school has received more than $4.5 million in renovations.
"New doors, new windows and new roofs," said Warwick. "We started with a building wrap on the outside of our buildings. In every urban center, you have an old building stock. Our average building is 55 years old."
Duggan is just one of 17 city schools to receive state grant money for renovations. Warwick says it took teamwork to make the project happen.
"I have to compliment the school committee and the mayor for their support financially for this. The mayor had to put 20 percent up front to get the 80 percent grant, but it was a really good return on investment," Warwick said.
"We have actually seen a 4 percent drop in the asthma rates city-wide," said Patrick Sullivan, Springfield's executive director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management.
Sullivan told CBS 3 the drop in asthma cases can be directly attributed to the work being done at the schools.
"That is because we are addressing the roofs that leak, we are improving the windows. We are improving the air quality by just getting that air out of the classroom," Sullivan said.
"So, you are getting beautiful, clean air going through the rooms," said school committee member Antonette Pepe. "Whereas before, it was such an enclosed space and carpeting, we were getting odors and very suffocating type of environment."
With this current round of renovations, Warwick said the city can expect to save $2.5 million in energy costs next year. He also expects to see school pride on the rise.
"It is very important that when kids come to school, they have a building that is worthy of them and they are not coming into a building that has not been properly cared for," the superintendent said.
Warwick said $25 million in repairs have already been done.
That number will be up to $37 million by August of this year.
The school system has already applied for $11 million more from the state to continue work next year.
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