Waterford school officials look back on 'a very, very successful year'

Waterford - The Board of Education closed out the academic year with reflections on accomplishments in the district, focusing on O&G Industries' completion of construction at Waterford High School.

"I thought it was important tonight that we bring you to the Board of Education and really say thank you for your work," Superintendent Jerome Belair told O&G Project Manager Gus Kotait and Project Superintendent Dave Lemelin, as photos of the district's five renovated schools played on a slide show.

High school construction is complete, with the exception of small details like paper work, traffic signs, landscaping items and additions of brick pavers, according to Jay Miner, director of buildings and grounds for Waterford schools.

"They've got some punch-list items to do," he said.

Kotait referred to the work as 99 percent completed.

Completion of the high school marks the end of a series of capital projects that spanned 12 years and cost roughly $200 million, Miner said after the meeting.

The projects started with the construction of the Friendship School, where O&G first got involved. Kotait and Lemelin began working on capital projects for the district beginning with Clark Lane Middle School's renovations in 2004, according to Miner.

Since that time, all five schools in the district have undergone drastic renovations. The high school's reconstruction cost roughly $68 million and was sufficiently completed for students to begin using the new school in April 2013.

Belair mentioned other accomplishments over the school year, saying he was particularly proud of students' accomplishments in sports. He said it was the first year that the high school girls' soccer team earned the state champion title.

"It's really kudos to the Waterford Public Schools, and we've had a very, very successful year," he said.

Looking forward to the summer, he said the district would be monitoring enrollment "hot spots" that could increase the student-to-teacher ratio in the 2014-15 school year. He said parents had raised concerns about high enrollment in fifth-grade classes and that the district had also noticed higher-than-normal kindergarten enrollment at some schools.

The hot spots are at Great Neck Elementary school at the fifth grade level and Quaker Hill Elementary School at the kindergarten level, he said. He said that the district has funding for an additional teaching position if necessary to keep the ratio in check, and also said that enrollment could rise or drop over the summer.

t.townsend@theday.com

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