A look ahead – what to expect from Region 16 schools in 2011

Seniors Amy Salazar and Jamie Grumken cheer for the Woodland foot ball team at the Woodland pep rally. -FILE PHOTO

Region 16 Schools

New elementary to replace outdated buildings

A newly-formed building committee will look at options for a new school on Talmadge Hill off of Route 69 in Prospect. The new pre-kindergarten through grade five school will replace Algonquin and Community Schools, which are outdated and not handicap accessible.

Additionally, the committee will address deferred maintenance, energy efficiency, and safety concerns at Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls.

The committee is still looking for one more volunteer from Beacon Falls.

The town has known about a need for a new school for about 20 years, but had difficulty acquiring appropriate property, said Lisa DeGoes, Chairman of the Board of Education for Region 16. When they finally bought the property a few years ago, it was a huge step forward, DeGoes said.

The building committee will work with architects to come up with a design which will hopefully incorporate green energy and be more efficient.

Once the new school is up and running, hopefully in 2015-2016, the cost savings will be tremendous, DeGoes said.

“This has been a long time coming and we hope the community will support it when we come to referendum,” she said.

Afterschool Mandarin Chinese program

A new afterschool program to teach students Mandarin Chinese will begin in January.

The Board of Education has been talking about the importance of Chinese as a language for students, and they finally found a teacher willing to teach a program for six through eigth-graders. If there is enough interest, it may become part of the school curriculum.

“I have two kids that are going to be taking it, so I’m excited,” said DeGoes.

DeGoes said there is a fair amount of interest in the program so far.

DeGoes on a mission to connect

In the coming year, DeGoes hopes to improve the lines of communication between the Board of Education, town committees, and the public.

“I sort of had a mission as the board chair to really connect with the community. I think too often board meetings are intimidating or time consuming,” DeGoes said.

A lot of people want to share things, but don’t want to speak at a formal meeting, DeGoes said.

Superintendent James Augostine and DeGoes will host two different coffee hours in February as a casual get together to find out how residents feel about Region 16 schools and give them a chance to provide feedback.

“I think this is a nice way to sort of break the ice,” DeGoes said.

DeGoes said she also wants to communicate better with town officials so they understand the board is doing things to better the region.