Plans approved for new $31.4m high school
    By LINDA G. MELE      Correspondent        Tuesday, March 27, 2001
 
                   DERBY -- The High School Building Committee Monday put the final touches on recommendations for a new, $31.4 million high school.
   < That's only 89,700 $/student, including hall walkers ! -enm> 

                    The group approved a 127,500-square-foot building with an auditorium that would accommodate 350 people.  It would serve students in grades nine through 12. 
  < Would there be ample hallways for the regular all-day walkers ? -enm >

                    It would be built on a 25.5-acre site acquired from Field View Farm owner Walter Hine; access would be from Hine Terrace. 
   < Would this have easy access to the athletic fields at the dump ? -enm >

                    The committee will present the recommendations to the Board of Aldermen, the Board of Education and the Board of Apportionment and Taxation on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Derby High School auditorium.

                    City Treasurer Keith Liverty said he would have figures about the impact on taxpayers on Thursday.  The town's share of the tab would be about $13.5 million, after state reimbursements.

                    "There will be no vote Thursday," Liverty said.  "We'll give board members a chance to review the recommendation and then meet again to formulate and approve the referendum question."

                    If the city endorses the plan for the new high school, it would ultimately require approval in a referendum.

                    The committee also Monday agreed to present an alternate plan that would include a larger, 550-person auditorium, increasing the project's cost by about  $700,000. 
   <That's only 3,500 $/Seat - what a bargain ! -enm >

                    Many committee members said they thought that was too much to spend for the extra auditorium space.

                    Board of Education member Mark Domurad said he couldn't speak for the school board.  "I can speak for myself," he said. "I can't justify the cost." 

                    But William Zaleha, a parent involved in the school's music programs, said he prefers the higher seating capacity.

                    "We have 192 students involved in music programs at the elementary level, and the auditorium is used for a variety of other programs, too," Zaleha said.  "The proposal includes a weight room and that's great, but it seems like you push forward when it involves sports and downplay the arts." 
   < The "old' DHS has a fine Choral/Band area - enm >

                    Chris Robinson, a former member of the Board of Education, said she opposes the entire project.

                    She asked how the board's initial plan to spend $400,000 on a new gymnasium and other upgrades to the existing high school mushroomed into plans for a costly new school.  "How did we get from that to a $30 million or $40 million project?" Robinson asked.

                    Supt. of Schools Martin Gotowala said 648 students in grades seven through 12 attend classes at the high school.  And while there are fewer than 100 seniors this year, the upcoming classes are larger, he said.

                    Once built, the new building would house students in grades nine through 12.  The current high school on Nutmeg Avenue would become a middle school serving sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.

                    Bumping sixth-graders up to middle school would free up room in the elementary schools where students in kindergarten through grade five would attend, he said. 

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