School hopes lights can finally shut off after costly glitch

Jan 23, 2023, 1:53 PM | Updated: Jan 26, 2023, 11:47 pm

WILBRAHAM, Mass. (AP) — It’s hoped that the lights at a Massachusetts high school will be able to be turned off by the end of next month, about a year-and-a-half after a computer glitch kept the lights on night and day, officials say.

The unusual challenge faced by Minnechaug Regional High School, located in the western Massachusetts town of Wilbraham, means there has been no way to turn the lights off short of unscrewing bulbs or flipping circuit breakers that leave entire sections of the building in the dark.

“We are very much aware this is costing taxpayers a significant amount of money,” Aaron Osborne, an assistant superintendent of finance at Hampden-Wilbraham Regional Schools, told NBC News. “And we have been doing everything we can to get this problem solved.”

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

The school serves about 1,200 students from the towns of Wilbraham and Hampden.

The situation has drawn the attention of Saturday Night Live, which mentioned the lights-on challenge during the Weekend Update segment of its Jan. 21 broadcast.

In a November 2021 story, the school’s student newspaper, The Smoke Signal, reported that a computer server that controlled what was supposed to be a lighting system designed to save power, failed in August 2021 and could not be fixed.

The school reached out to the original installer and found the company had changed hands several times. Global supply chain issues kept delaying efforts to get the parts needed to fix the system.

In a Monday email, Osborne said officials had thought the repair could cost $1.2 million, which would have entirely replaced the system. Now the actual cost of fixing the system by replacing lighting panels and the server, while updating the software, will be between $75,000 and $80,000.

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

“At this point, it is just the software transition that was missed in December and is now rescheduled for February,” Osborne said.

He said that while the lighting issue has been receiving the most attention, the school has been coping with other supply chain issues over the last three years, including finding enough computers for all the students.

Paul Mustone, the president of the Reflex Lighting Group, which now owns the company that originally installed the system in 2012, said they are ready to go next month.

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

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Low-cost fashion chain H&M reports 4th-quarter loss

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Low-cost fashion brand H&M said Friday that shutting down its business in Russia and Belarus had a significant negative impact on its results, while increases in the costs of raw materials and freight and a strong U.S. dollar made purchases more expensive. The Sweden-based group said its net profit for the year […]
4 hours ago
FILE- Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani attends the 'Invest Karnataka 2016 - Global Investors Meet'...
Associated Press

Adani mulls suing US short-seller as shares sink up to 20%

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s Adani Group launched a share offering for retail investors Friday as it mulled taking legal action against U.S.-based short-selling firm Hindenburg Research over a report that led investors to dump its shares, with some stocks in the group falling up to 20% on Friday. The market value of Adani’s companies […]
4 hours ago
A currency trader passes by the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left...
Associated Press

Global shares edge higher, tracking Wall Street rally

TOKYO (AP) — Global shares advanced Friday, tracking a rally on Wall Street following reports suggesting the economy and corporate profits may be doing better than feared. France’s CAC 40 gained 0.2% to 7,107.44. Germany’s DAX was unchanged at 15,134.04, while Britain’s FTSE 100 rose nearly 0.2% to 7,773.10. The future for the Dow Jones […]
4 hours ago
Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, left, and Senate Approp...
Associated Press

5 women, immense power: Can they keep US from fiscal brink?

WASHINGTON (AP) — They are now among the most powerful women in Congress. But when they were first elected in the 1990s, they were often overlooked, or even talked down to. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, remembers that men would avoid asking her questions, addressing other men in the room instead. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., says […]
1 day ago
FILE - An employee adds drops of water-soluble CBD, or cannabidiol, an essential component of medic...
Associated Press

Hong Kong to ban CBD, label it a ‘dangerous drug’

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong will ban CBD starting Wednesday, categorizing it as a “dangerous drug” and mandating harsh penalties for its smuggling, production and possession, customs authorities announced Friday. Supporters say CBD can treat a range of ailments including anxiety and that, unlike its more famous cousin THC — which is already illegal […]
1 day ago
FILE - A pumpjack as seen on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in Tatum, New Mexico. For the second time t...
Associated Press

House GOP seeks new restrictions on use of US oil stockpile

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the second time this month, House Republicans are seeking to restrict presidential use of the nation’s emergency oil stockpile — a proposal that has already drawn a White House veto threat. A GOP bill set for a vote Friday would require the government to offset any non-emergency withdrawals from the Strategic […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
School hopes lights can finally shut off after costly glitch