Stonington sprinkler system working, new sod taking root as school year set to begin

Editor's note: This corrects an earlier version of this article.

Stonington - When school opens here Wednesday morning, a new sprinkler system will be in operation at West Broad Street School while high school sports teams are expected to be able to practice on three fields where new sod had to be installed.

Meanwhile, tonight, the Board of Education is slated to interview the two finalists for the vacant superintendent of schools position. Interim Superintendent of Schools Paul Smotas said Monday that neither candidate is from within the school system, but both are experienced superintendents. Board Chairwoman Gail MacDonald has said she hopes the board can choose a new superintendent by the end of this week.

Problems with the sprinkler system at West Broad Street School were detected in early July and threatened to postpone the start of school, but Smotas and other school officials were able to get a firm to make the needed repairs and have inspections done in time by state and local fire marshals.

Smotas said the work will be within the $89,000 cost estimate which includes a contingency. The Board of Education will now ask the Board of Finance to send the additional expenditure to voters to approve at a town meeting this fall. If voters reject the request, the school board would have to find the money in the school budget.

Smotas said that today he would also be inspecting the sod that has been installed on the football, field hockey and boys' soccer fields after bare spots and holes made them dangerous to practice and play on.

An attempt to plant grass on them had failed because of this summer's dry weather, and school officials decided a few weeks ago to go ahead and install the sod at a cost of $17,000.

The school board plans to ask the finance board to let it use $17,000 it saved from a school driveway project to cover the cost of the sod. If that is unsuccessful, the school board will somehow have to find the funds in its budget.

Smotas said Monday the sod had taken hold much better than he expected at this point, and he expects the fields to be ready for use today or Wednesday.


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