BOE Votes To Move Forward With SHS Asset Reclamation Efforts

With the October 5 referendum on the town accepting state financial assistance to demolish the Sandy Hook School building and to design and build a new facility, the Board of Education took up a few related topics during its meeting on September 17.

“As we discussed at a couple of other meetings,” Business Director Ronald Bienkowski told the school board Tuesday evening, “we are interested in retrieving useful items from Sandy Hook School before it is demolished.”

Some of the items Mr Bienkowski listed were dual fuel burners that could be used at Newtown Middle School, a generator that is old but usable, three refrigerators, and stainless steel sinks.

Most of the items, Mr Bienkowski explained, will need to be removed prior to asbestos being removed from the site. A company has also offered to remove items, with the generator as an exception, at no cost to the district, according to Mr Bienkowski.

The school board unanimously approved the asset reclamation plan as presented by Mr Bienkowski.

The school board also unanimously approved a request, as read by BOE Chair Debbie Leidlein, for $34,217 from the town’s special revenue fund for the school district to provide additional video surveillance equipment and the associated labor needed to meet additional security system requirements at Hawley Elementary School, Head O’ Meadow Elementary School, Reed Intermediate School, and Newtown Middle School. Ms Leidlein also said $9,007 from the Hawley fund will be used for that school.

Mr Bienkowski said the special revenue account was created by the town for donations following the events of 12/14 that did not have a designated purpose.

During his report to the board, Interim Superintendent of Schools John Reed reminded board members that he will be working with a Parents Budget Committee as an attempt to get parents more involved in the budget process. Parents interested in participating in the Parents Budget Committee are asked to register by September 27 by e-mailing Joni Capoccitti at capoccittij@newtown.k12.ct.us. Dr Reed also said there will be opportunities for members of the general community to also learn more about the budget process in the coming months.

Dr Reed also said there have been two recent false fire alarms at Hawley, in the school’s 1948 section.

“Nobody really knows why,” said Dr Reed. “We could not find a reason.”

The first false alarm on went off on Tuesday, September 10, and resulted in an early dismissal for the school. The alarm sounded at the same time heavy rains reached the area, so all students and faculty were drenched when they returned to class after the building was evacuated.

Dr Reed said a “fire watch” has been implemented in the 1948 section of Hawley, with people monitoring the space frequently.

The interim superintendent also said he plans to present a budget calendar in October that will be different than calendars of previous years. The district’s administrative team, he said, will come together to jointly put together the budget. In past years school principals have prepared budgets for their schools alone for the superintendent to then inspect and present to the school board.

Dr Reed said the new budget process will take more time upfront.

School Board Vice Chair Laura Roche also reminded members of the public present at the meeting that the search for a permanent superintendent continues. In upcoming months, Ms Roche said, focus groups will meet and three meetings for parents will be held. She also said a survey is available on the school district’s website, here. The survey will be open through October 14.

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