Looking ahead to 2012 : Region 16

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A changing of the guard

James Agostine - FILE PHOTO

A new superintendent will guide Region 16 into the new year.

Current Superintendent of Schools James Agostine will leave the district Jan. 15 after four years at its helm. The school board will soon start its search for a new superintendent of schools, but has already hired Tim James to serve as interim superintendent starting Jan. 10. James is currently serving as superintendent of schools for the Orange Elementary School District. James has been a superintendent for 23 of his 41 years in education.

“He comes highly recommended,” said Pricella Cretella, chair of the Board of Education

She said he has knowledge and expertise and seems very organized.

“We’re anticipating a good relationship with him,” Cretella said.

She said the board hopes to find a well-qualified permanent replacement for Agostine.

“We are going to be looking very, very diligently for someone who will fill our needs,” Cretella said.

School project set to move forward

A computer drawing shows a design for the new elementary school in Prospect. -CONTRIBUTED

Prospect voters recently carried a $46.7 million school project to the next step when they approved it in a referendum Dec. 20, over the objections of a majority of Beacon Falls voters.

The plan includes building a new elementary school in Prospect to replace Community and Algonquin schools, major renovations to Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls, and converting Algonquin School into the new district office.

Architectural firm Fletcher-Thompson will begin designing the new building and renovations to submit to the state for reimbursement by the end of June. The project should go out to bid next spring, with construction starting in the spring of 2013.

Under the plan, an 85,630-square-foot, pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school will be built on a 49-acre site at 75 New Haven Road in Prospect, known as the Tallmadge Hill Road property. The new school will replace Community and Algonquin schools.

Plans for Laurel Ledge include building new corridors to connect all of the buildings at the campus-style school and renovations to the bathrooms. One science and one music classroom along with two new bathrooms will be added to the school as well.

As for the new district office, the two-story wing of Algonquin School will be demolished and the remaining portion will be renovated for office space with an all-purpose room for school and community events. The annex at the school would be saved for future use. The area where the two-story wing stands now will be used for parking.

Generating a buzz

Following several severe storms that took out power in much of the district over the past year, the Board of Education will be looking into getting generators to power the school buildings.

Woodland Regional High School has a generator, but some issues arose when the building was used as a shelter following the October nor’easter.

Cretella said she wasn’t sure how much the generators would cost or whether the district will have the money to pay for it.

“It’s something that we want to be more prepared for a storm. We don’t know if we could possibly meet the demand,” Cretella said.

School board members have also contended that Beacon Falls should pay for a generator at the high school, since it would be the town and not the school district that would use the facility as an emergency shelter.

Fixing the fields at the high school

The district plans to fix the athletic fields at the high school next year. The backstops at the high school broke under the weight of the October snow this year. The fields will be fixed over the winter or in early spring so softball and tennis teams will be able to play next season, according to Cretella.

“Those are two big ticket items that have to be dealt with right away,” Cretella said.

Enrollment declining

Cretella said the district is hoping to save money in next year’s budget through attrition. With declining student enrollment, some positions may not be filled as staff retires.