School Board Reviews Summer Building Projects, Installations
From June to mid-August, while students were on summer break, the district’s maintenance staff and others were busy prepping buildings for the 2021-22 school year.
Director of Facilities Bob Gerbert, Jr, shared an overview of the summer maintenance work completed in the district with the school board at its meeting on September 21.
Gerbert’s presentation began with highlighting outdoor maintenance work at Hawley Elementary School. Work at that location included sill repairs and power washing.
Then at Middle Gate Elementary School, 12 exhaust fans on the roof were replaced along with some exterior doors. The front of the school was power washed and when educators returned to the school following the summer, they may have also noted the red columns on the building’s exterior were freshly repainted.
At Head O’ Meadow Elementary School some asphalt exterior walks were replaced with concrete after showing wear from freezing and thawing for years.
At Reed Intermediate School a fence was added around the exterior preschool playground, to “keep the kids a little safer,” Gerbert explained. The school’s planned boiler project also began.
Newtown Middle School projects included replacing sidewalks for the outdoor bus drop and pickup area and adding insulation to the building’s A-wing attic.
“Hopefully it will save on our heating bill a little bit,” said Gerbert to the school board members present for the meeting.
At Newtown High School carpet was replaced in the B-wing faculty office and in an A-wing office. A new office was also constructed in the F-wing. Gerbert said the new office was an “in-house job” completed by district maintenance staff.
“From start to finish all with our own guys,” said Gerbert.
The facilities director also highlighted the work completed on NHS’s Blue & Gold stadium over the summer. The work includes a new turf field, a new track, a new video scoreboard, and painted bleachers.
“This field is open for business,” said Gerbert, adding that the football team and other teams have already been using the field.
As Gerbert and Superintendent of Schools Dr Lorrie Rodrigue later updated the school board, the stadium project did encounter a costly discovery. During the process of laying the track, it was discovered that when laying the track previously, no sealant was used, according to Dr Rodrigue. Gerbert explained that can lead to deterioration.
Dr Rodrigue said the unanticipated discovery and following work added $55,000 to the cost of the project.
After discussion the school board moved to request money from its nonlapsing account be used to cover the additional cost for the project.
Also at the meeting, at the superintendent’s request to combat a shortage of substitute teachers, the Board of Education voted to increase the pay rate for building substitutes and for “daily” (who are called when needed) substitutes. Both were paid $91 a day, and building substitutes will now earn $100 a day and daily substitutes will now earn $95 a day.
“We need to make this a little bit more competitive,” said Dr Rodrigue.
Education Reporter Eliza Hallabeck can be reached at email@example.com.