School facility panel wants action

From left, Naugatuck Long-term School Facility Planning Committee members Wayne McAllister, Barbara Lewis and Warren Hess discuss changes to borough schools. Eight of the district’s 11 schools are more than 50 years old and will need to be upgraded over the next 10 to 15 years.

NAUGATUCK — Many changes to Naugatuck school facilities were on the table at the initial meeting of the Naugatuck Long-term School Facility Planning Committee on Monday at Naugatuck Town Hall.

The newly formed committee agreed that they must find a way to act on whatever recommendations they made.

In the past, changes to school buildings have been reactionary, according to Mayor Robert Mezzo. For example, temporary portable classrooms have become permanent because no one ever enacted a more permanent plan.

“We were told there was a 10-year shelf life (on the portable classrooms) when we went in. We have exceeded that shelf life,” Charles Marengi said.

“There have been a lot of recommendations as far as specifically building a school, adding on to a school or considering portable classrooms at various schools for almost the past 20 years, but this has never been acted upon,” Mezzo said.

The purpose of this new committee is to anticipate the future needs of the schools and be able to plan for them financially instead of waiting until the last minute, according to Mezzo.

“Hopefully, a group is not sitting here … 10 years from now reading a statement like that and saying, ‘Boy, we sat on it again,’” said Mezzo, referring to a 1993 report by the New England School Development Council.

Members of the committee discussed possible changes to the current configuration of schools, including making a bigger elementary school to replace some of the smaller ones or clustering schools in a campus style set-up. Members agreed they needed to improve the disparity between qualities of schools within the district. They also discussed how to integrate new technology into the school system.

Eight of the 11 schools in the district are more than 50 years old and will need to be replaced or upgraded over the next 10 to 15 years, according to John Tindall-Gibson.
The committee’s next meeting will be Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Naugatuck Town Hall and is open to the public.