Derby boards wrestle with schools growth
  By LINDA G. MELE Correspondent   Friday, November 03, 2000

DERBY -- No matter how the numbers are crunched, the city needs more space in its schools to accommodate increasing enrollment.

How that will be accomplished is still up in the air.

About three dozen people showed up Thursday at Derby High School for a joint meeting of the Board of Aldermen, Board of Education and Board of Apportionment and Taxation that was scheduled to discuss the need for more space in the city's schools.

As of Oct. 1, there were 927 students in the elementary schools that serve grades pre-kindergarten through 12, 248 students in grades seven and eight, and 400 students in grades nine through 12, according to superintendent Martin Gotowala.  The current high school, built in the 1960s, serves 648 students in grades seven through 12.

Gotowala said one of his recommendations would be to have the elementary schools serve grades pre-K through fifth grade, a middle school for students in grades six, seven and eight and a true high school for grades nine through 12.

A new 87,736-square-foot high school for grades seven through 12 would cost about $25,157,398, Gotowala said, with an estimated 69.64 percent state reimbursement of $17,519,612 and a final estimated cost to the city of $7,637,786.

If a new high school were to be built, the current high school could be renovated to serve as a true middle school for grades six, seven and eight.

This program would also free up much needed space in the elementary schools.

Alderman John Orazietti suggested another option that could cut costs drastically: contact the Ansonia Board of Education and use the same plans -- with modifications -- that were used to build the new Ansonia High School.
"The new Ansonia High School has 165,000 square feet and cost $26.5 million and 18 months to build," Orazietti said, "and it accommodates 725 students."

"We could take advantage of their building committee's experience and knowledge to save time and money," Orazietti said.  "We could move a lot faster and get a brand new high school for about $7 million. It's something to think about."

Gotowala said a modular middle school for grades seven and eight would cost about $7,699,350 and would include 16 classrooms and a free-standing gymnasium.