District to consider potential facilities projects
Published 5:05 pm, Thursday, December 29, 2016
NEW CANAAN — Asbestos, leaky chimneys and deteriorating floor tiles are all problems facing New Canaan schools.
Manager of Facility Operations Bob Willoughby presented these, as well as other facilities items needing fixing, to the school board as they consider their budget for the next fiscal year.
All schools need new maintenance vans and propane tanks, among other needs. Willoughby said he’d also like an alarm program to notify officials with a phone call if there’s an emergency, such as a freezer or boilers breaking. The current system sends a text message which can be missed if sent in the middle of the night.
The elementary schools need new carpeting in main offices, floor tile repairs and classroom outdoor air dampers.
In East School, vinyl walls or bumpers need to be installed in cafeteria hallway, as paint has become worn from students leaning on the walls. The sinks need ADA upgrades and the bathrooms need new partitions, among other upgrades.
At South School, built in 1950, the glass fuse panels need updating. Some classrooms in the building also have chimneys which are leaking and the floor tile outside the cafeteria is “failing terrible” and has asbestos underneath. The school also needs new corridor ventilation, because there’s not enough air flow coming into the building.
West School, in addition to needing new grab bars in handicap bathrooms, needs new gutter guards outside the gym. Willoughby said he’d also like to see water supply isolation valves, so certain bathrooms could be shut off when in need of repair.
“Whenever we have issues in a bathroom, we shut the valve off to isolate the bathroom,” Willoughby said. “West (School) doesn’t have those. When we have a bathroom issue, we wait until children are gone (to shut off the valves). Every time we go to make repairs, we tell them to put a valve on pipe. It makes sense.”
Saxes Middle School, like other buildings, needs masonry repairs for wall stress cracks. Willoughby said there’s money allotted to repairing the walls every other year, but the money used all at once to get repairs done in one fiscal year. Benches in the cafeteria are also falling apart and could be removed to add space for baseboard heating and additional seating.
The middle school also needs more corridor ventilation and better boiler expansion tanks.
The high school, in addition to needing new handicap stall grab bars, needs new library carpeting.
“It’s seen its day,” Willoughby said. “It’s worn and doesn’t look very attractive.”
Willoughby also mentioned a need for new carpeting in the Wagner Room. Both rooms haven’t had new carpeting since 2006.
The cafeteria kitchen floor has a section in need of repair, due to rippling in it cause by constantly wheeling heavy carts over certain parts. The section has been repaired several times already, so facilities is looking to do something different to prevent further damage.
The lighting in the auditorium also needs improvements. Some of the house light controllers need replacing. There are also six to eight wires running over the back of the auditorium floor that can be put in a controller box.
Willoughby said he’d also like to get an emergency generator for the bus building. He said if there is a town wide emergency, a generator would allow for the building to power radios connected to the buses, so officials could notify drivers on the road.
“It’s not a big-ticket item,” Willoughby said. “But it’s something we should do and it’s something we’d like to get done sooner rather than later.”
Down the line, Willoughby said the district is needs to repave school parking lots in two or three years.
The board took Willoughby’s suggestions, noting most came from a building condition survey done three years ago. The survey prioritized different projects and superintendent Bryan Luizzi noted the district had already attended to most of the “priority one” projects.
Board chair Dionna Carlson asked the district do these surveys every five to 10 years, despite the high cost to the town. Carlson also asked to see the ages of certain items to help put things into perspective for the board members and other town officials.
“I think it would help as we and the town make determinations,” she said. “You think the high school auditorium and then you think 2006. That’s 10 years ago, I don’t even have a dishwasher that lasts 10 years. I think it’s important to put dates down.”
Board member Penny Rashin agreed, adding it’s a good reference point for when the board goes to town bodies about what needs to be done. However, Willoughby mentioned some items can only be put off for so long.
“There’s a sense of urgency on how we’re going to get these things fixed before they fall apart,” he said.