By Lissa Capobianco
The first phase of the middle school renovations has been completed, and now both DePaolo and Kennedy Middle Schools are ready to start on time.
Past environmental tests found traces of asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) at both DePaolo and Kennedy Middle Schools. The remediation process was able to be completed this summer after voters approved middle school renovations for a second time earlier this year. Voters approved the renovations in 2011, but renovations were sent back to referendum after school officials discovered that the removal of PCB would increase cost estimates significantly.
Southington Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Erardi said he has “absolutely no concern” for starting the new school year safely and on time. Now the second phase of renovations, construction, will begin soon.
“[The schools] will look like a construction site, but it will be safe,” Erardi said.
Erardi has ensured parents that precautions have been made for students’ safety despite certain difficulties.
“There’s been… significant background checks [of workers on the site],” Erardi said. “[And] if there is a need for additional safety officials outside for traffic patterns, we’re prepared to do all of that.”
When students return to school August 29, the gymnasium will be off limits for P.E. classes and girls’ volleyball until November 1, reported Chris Palmieri, the assistant principal of DePaolo Middle School. Gym classes and other athletic activities will take place outdoors if the weather cooperates. Girls’ volleyball from DePaolo will take place at the high school, while girls’ volleyball from Kennedy will take place at Derynoski Elementary School.
School renovations are expected to be completed by fall 2015. By then, Palmieri said the schools will have a new media center, 10 new classrooms and a new main office as well as a separate room for band and chorus practice in the back of the auditorium. The old media center will turn into two new art classrooms, and there will also be an upgrade in technology.
“[The renovations] will give us an opportunity to have Wi-Fi throughout every classroom…state-of-the-art technology [and] climate control with [both] the buildings having AC,” Erardi said. “There will be two schools we will be very proud of.”
Erardi said an informational meeting will take place for parents before school starts to provide a review of what to expect when construction starts and how the students will stay safe. The meeting at DePaolo Middle School will take place Tuesday, August 27 at 7 p.m. and the meeting at Kennedy Middle School will take place at 7:30 p.m. the same evening. On August 28, students will have the opportunity to tour the middle schools from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“The voice of a parent is a very important voice to me,” he said.