Stonington schools resume today with some repair work continuing

As students return to school today, the top floor of West Broad Street School will be reopened to students and staff following repairs to its ceilings and walls.

At Deans Mill School, a contractor will be continuing work over the next several weeks to replace the leaky roof. If Principal Jennifer McCurdy feels the work is disruptive to classes, work will be done early in the morning, after school and on weekends, according to school Business Manager Bill King.

Four classrooms and the gym/auditorium on the top floor at West Broad Street School have been closed since May because of safety concerns about the integrity of the ceiling after water-soaked portions began to sag. A portion of a ceiling also collapsed in a school stairwell this spring.

The school board proceeded with the $50,000 in repairs using school money so the project would be completed before school began. It will now ask the finance board to reimburse it for the work, much as it did with emergency sprinkler repairs at the school in 2012.

King said the work on the Deans Mill roof began in late July.

He said it is now watertight, but crews have to finish some metal work. He said removal of the old roof proved to be more difficult than originally thought. Other than that, he said there have been no problems with the project.

In March, residents voted to spend up to $1.2 million to fix the roof. Bids came in lower than expected, and the $792,000 cost will be taken from the town's more than $11 million undesignated fund balance, which is designed to help the town deal with emergencies.

A large group of Deans Mill staff and parents had pressed town and school officials to fix the problem. Tarps had been hanging from leaky ceilings to collect water and drain them through hoses into trash buckets.

This fall, the K-12 School Building Committee will continue its work to develop a plan to update the school's three aging elementary schools. One option that is gaining favor with school officials is to instead construct a new middle school, close the elementary schools and send elementary students to Mystic and Pawcatuck middle schools.

Meanwhile, in the district, three schools will have new principals, but they are familiar faces to staff and students.

Mark Friese takes over at Stonington High School, after serving as assistant principal under Stephen Murphy, who retired.

McCurdy moves from Mystic Middle School to Deans Mill to replace Doug Hammel, who left to be a principal in Guilford.

Replacing McCurdy at Mystic Middle is Greg Keith, who was a longtime teacher and dean of students at the school before working in the Ledyard system the past few years.

One new face is former Norwich Free Academy basketball coach and teacher Neal Curland, who replaces Friese as assistant principal at the high school.

j.wojtas@theday.com
Twitter: @joewojtas

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