State authorizes funding for NHS project

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Naugatuck High School Principal Janice Saam, right, with five of her students throw shovels of dirt during a groundbreaking ceremony April 2 at the school to mark the start of the $81 million renovation project. –FILE PHOTO
Naugatuck High School Principal Janice Saam, right, with five of her students throw shovels of dirt during a groundbreaking ceremony April 2 at the school to mark the start of the $81 million renovation project. –FILE PHOTO

HARTFORD — The state has given final authorization for funds to reimburse the borough on the Naugatuck High School renovation project.

The funds were authorized last week as part of this year’s omnibus school construction legislation, state senators Joseph Crisco, Jr. (D-17) and Joan Hartley (D-15) announced in a press release.

All told, 27 local school construction projects were authorized, along with reauthorization for seven additional projects, wherein the scope and cost of the project had changed, the release stated.

“I’m delighted by the favorable consideration given to Naugatuck’s application for school construction funding because parts of the building are now more than 50 years old and the entire building will benefit from improved energy efficiency,” Crisco said in the release. “I know how much the administration, faculty, and students are looking forward to having like-new facilities and I’m confident Naugatuck taxpayers will appreciate news about this significant state grant.”

Officials broke ground on the roughly $81 million project in early April. Naugatuck’s reimbursement rate was approved at 74.6 percent of the eligible expenses, according to the release.

The first phase of the project is currently underway and includes work on the locker rooms behind the pool, the area in front of the pool and renovations to the athletic fields. Synthetic turf will be laid down on the football field, which will double as the soccer field, and the baseball and softball diamonds will be moved to the lower fields. A six-lane track that rings the lower field will be expanded to eight lanes around the upper field.

The entire project is expected to take 30 months to complete.

“This much-needed and long anticipated grant will enable the Naugatuck High School facility to offer the borough’s students a 21st century high school facility which is such an integral part of Naugatuck’s storied history,” Hartley said in the release.

As part of the project, the district offices will move from the Tuttle Building on Church Street to the high school’s patio, which is currently being renovated for the offices. The school currently measures some 300,000 square feet, which is too much space for the number of students expected over the next eight years, the release stated.

“The part of this Naugatuck alteration that captures my imagination is incorporation of the school district’s central offices into under-utilized portions of the high school,” Crisco added. “The plan demonstrates tremendous foresight to consider declining enrollment projections and the need to maximize state reimbursement for the project, and the result is district offices built right into some of the high school space.”