Officials want to convert computer lab into auditorium

PROSPECT — The days of Long River Middle School students using the school’s computer lab to do work online are over. Now, officials are hoping to repurpose the lab so that students may one day use the school’s new auditorium.

Region 16, which oversees public schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, implemented a one-to-one device initiative a couple of years ago. The initiative provided every student in grades six through 12 with their own Chromebook to use in class.

Since students now have access to the Chromebooks, Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said any work done on computers is done in the classroom. The computer lab, he said, isn’t being used and officials don’t see the value in it anymore.

School officials want to turn the computer lab, which is next to the media center, into a 200-seat auditorium. Officials presented the idea to the Board of Education Oct. 9.

Long River Middle School Principal Derek Muharem said an auditorium would benefit the school more than an underused computer lab. The proposed auditorium, he said, could fit all students in one grade at a time for class assemblies, instead of using the gym and disrupting physical education classes or scheduling assemblies around lunch waves. He added the school’s drama club could also use the auditorium.

“It makes sense for a whole lot of reasons,” Muharem said.

The computer lab has tiered seating. Officials said the room needs to be expanded about 200 square feet to fit 200 seats in the auditorium. School officials are working with an architectural firm to explore their options to expand the room, which include repurposing two small bathrooms nearby for the auditorium or expanding the room slightly into the media center.

Board members agreed with the idea, as long as the cost to turn the lab into an auditorium is reasonable. There are no cost estimates yet for the work. Officials expect to report back to the board on the proposal at its Nov. 20 meeting.