Derby voters to decide on school project
By Joanne M. Pelton, Naugatuck Valley Bureau Chief    May 05, 2000

DERBY — A $40.6 million school expansion proposal and a $3.7 million project to construct athletic fields will go to a referendum June 10.

The all-day referendum will be from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Irving and Bradley schools.

Board of Education Chairman James Gildea said thatholding the referendum on June 10, a Saturday, might give more people an opportunity to vote.

Voters will be asked to approve $31 million for a new high school building and athletic complex, $9.6 million to renovate the current high school into a middle school, and $3.7 million to build new athletic fields at Witek Park on Academy Hill Road and Bradley School on David Humphries Road.

Mayor Marc Garofalo said Thursday he supports the proposals and urged voters to come out and vote for the projects. He said the new schools would "improve the quality of life in Derby and will increase property values."

The proposal calls for construction of a 132,000-square-foot, four-story high school just north of the current one on Nutmeg Avenue. The current high school would be converted into a middle school for grades 6-8. And a new track, baseball and softball fields and two multi-purpose fields would be constructed for the two-school campus.

Derby needs new schools because the current ones are overcrowded, said Angelo Dirienzo, chairman of the building committee and former superintendent of Derby’s schools. He said that according to a recent demographic study, Derby could expect to see school enrollment swell by another 150 students by the year 2006. There are currently 1,600 students.    150/1600 ==> 9.375 %     ?? & thereafter ??

Gildea said that if the projects are approved in June, work on the new school could begin by late fall. The school could open by September 2002 if everything stays on schedule, he said.

The city would pay about $22 million of the total cost, because the state will reimburse about 70 percent for the new high school, 50 percent to 60 percent for renovations for an intermediate school, and 35 percent for the recreation complex, Gildea said.

Gildea called the referendum one of the most important issues to face voters in the last two decades.

Garofalo said plans for the school started more than 18 months ago.

The current high school building is 35 years old and is in need of some updates, school officials said.
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