Boards back plan for high school
 Marianne Lippard, Register Correspondent   November 03, 2000

DERBY — The city’s top three boards endorsed a plan to build a new high school building Thursday night after ruling out two other options for handling the space shortage in the schools.

Members of the Board of Aldermen, Board of Apportionment and Taxation and Board of Education voted on the plan for a new school after a discussion about the inherent costs of using portable classrooms. 

City Engineer John R. Gilmore also presented the group with a rough breakdown of the cost of using the former Lincoln School building on Minerva Street to ease the space crunch. 

About 15 parents who attended an education summit at the high school applauded the decision to build. 

While the boards unanimously agreed on the need for a new school building, the meeting fell short of the expectations of some members of the Board of Education who wanted a building committee appointed. 

Mayor Marc Garofalo said he would appoint a five-member school building committee by the end of the month. 

Timing is critical now because the city must submit a new plan to the state by June 30, 2001, to qualify for 70 percent state reimbursement. 

Prior to the vote, Gilmore and Superintendent of Schools Martin Gotowala talked about the expense involved in using modular classrooms and the Minerva Street building. 

Gotowala’s figures showed that setting up modular classrooms and a modular gymnasium for grades seven and eight would cost the city approximately $7.7 million. The new configuration would involve filling an entire parking lot with portable classrooms, Gotowala said. 

A new high school building, while costing approximately $25.2 million to build, would require Derby taxpayers to pay $7.6 million, Gotowala said. 

The figure allows for 70 percent state reimbursement, estimated at $17.5 million. 

Gilmore, who described his own report as "cursory,’’ said the cost of renovating and adding on to the former Lincoln School building would be approximately $12 million. 

Gilmore’s estimate factored in the costs of acquiring land near the school, fixing the roof and removing asbestos and lead paint from inside the building. 

Garofalo asked Gotowala to reevaluate the cost of portable classrooms including the sixth grade. 

"Where would we have room to put another block of eight classrooms? We have to have a place to put them,’’ Gotowala said. 

Speaking in favor of a new school, Alderman John Orazietti said that the city should consider building at Witek Park and using the Ansonia High School building as a model. By using the same architect, Orazietti suggested, the city might save $2 million. 

Building a smaller school and meeting with the Ansonia building committee might also save money, Orazietti proposed. 

"I think we’re looking at a direction we can go where we can get moving and maybe have a new school by 2002," Orazietti said.