End in sight for Massachusetts High School, whose lights have been on for over a year

End in sight for Massachusetts High School, whose lights have been on for over a year

It’s hoped the lights at a Massachusetts high school can be turned off by the end of next month, about a year and a half after a computer glitch kept the lights on day and night, officials say.

The unusual challenge facing Minnechaug Regional High School in the western Massachusetts town of Wilbraham means there was no way to turn off the lights other than unscrewing lightbulbs or flipping circuit breakers that leave entire sections of the building dark.

“We are very aware that this is costing taxpayers a significant amount of money,” Aaron Osborne, deputy finance director for Hampden-Wilbraham Regional Schools, told NBC News. “And we have done everything to solve this problem.”

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Osborne estimated the additional cost to the district for the nearly 7,000 lights in the 248,000-square-foot building at thousands of dollars a month, but “not in the tens of thousands.”

The school serves approximately 1,200 students from the cities of Wilbraham and Hampden.

The situation caught the attention of Saturday Night Live, who mentioned the lights-on challenge during the weekend update segment of their Jan. 21 show.

In a November 2021 story, the school’s student newspaper, The Smoke Signal, reported that a computer server controlling a lighting system designed to conserve electricity failed in August 2021 and could not be repaired.

Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, expects a computer failure that kept its lights on for over a year will be resolved by the end of next month.

Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, expects a computer failure that kept its lights on for over a year will be resolved by the end of next month.
(Fox News)

The school contacted the original installer and found that the company had changed hands several times. Global supply chain problems delayed efforts to source the parts needed to repair the system.

In a Monday email, Osborne said officials thought the repair could cost $1.2 million, which would have replaced the system entirely. Now, the real cost of repairing the system by replacing lighting panels and the server while updating the software will range from $75,000 to $80,000.

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From October the new equipment was received and installed. It was hoped the software could have been updated last month, but it was delayed.

“At this point, it’s just the software transition that was missed in December and is now being pushed back to February,” Osborne said.

He said that while the lighting issue has received most of the attention, the school has managed other supply chain issues over the past three years, including finding enough computers for all students.

Paul Mustone, the president of Reflex Lighting Group, which now owns the company that originally installed the system in 2012, said they will be up and running next month.

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“And yes, there will be a remote override switch so that doesn’t happen again,” he said.

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