Ledyard school board recommends closing Center School

Ledyard - The Board of Education formally recommended that the town close Ledyard Center School and renovate Gallup Hill School as new in a meeting last month. The board also plans to renovate Ledyard Middle School.

Superintendent Cathy Patterson said Thursday that the school board will unroll the plans over time, giving the community ample time to weigh in and ask questions. Beginning in September, the school board will hold public meetings with the architect, John Ireland, for that purpose, Patterson said.

The goal, she said, is to hold a referendum in the third week of January 2015. When the changes would take effect - and where Center School students will be educated in the future - is still undetermined, Patterson added.

Center School's location causes traffic jams, she explained, and the electrical and plumbing systems in the building don't lend themselves to renovation. The electrical system in particular isn't suited to new technology such as Promethean boards, and they keep blowing fuses at the school, she said. It's also very spread out, driving up energy costs.

In light of those facts, the board decided to close that school, renovate Gallup Hill School as new and redistribute the students, Patterson said. She added that renovating a school as new would allow the town to take advantage of state reimbursement and would be less expensive than replacing outdated systems at two elementary schools.

If the changes get voted down, the district will need to develop a long-term maintenance plan to address the problems, Patterson said.

Along with the proposed changes to the elementary schools, the middle school would be renovated to address, among other things, safety concerns. The school would also be expanded to include the sixth grade in addition to its current seventh- and eighth-graders.

- Kelly Catalfamo

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