SHS closure prompts call to approve renovation plan

Stratford High School.

Stratford High School.

Stratford Board of Education Chairman James Feehan said electrical issues at Stratford High School that prevented the school from opening last Wednesday are a sign that the long-awaited renovation project should proceed.

“Fate is a funny friend,” said Feehan, a proponent of the proposed $125.9-million plan.

“Do we need any more proof that we need to fix this school?”

Several older electrical switches in the building were unable to be reset during a power surge last Tuesday afternoon, forcing SHS to stay closed all day Wednesday. Public Works Director Maurice McCarthy said the building’s main disconnect tripped when power was restored after Tuesday’s power outage, but it was reset. The problem surfaced further in the system when the older switches were tripped and were unable to be reset. Crews worked most of the day to complete the repairs and the school reopened last Thursday morning.

SHS Principal Jack Dellapiano thanked the public works staff for making the necessary repairs. During the closure, about 80% of the building was without power.

“There was equal frustration around between the students, staff and parents,” Dellapiano said. “Student safety is the most important. We had no power in 80% of the building, so the important thing is to keep kids safe and address the problem.”

The building has had other issues due to age, Dellapiano said, including issues with too much heat in the school’s main office when students returned from winter break.

“We’re diligent with what we do here to make things operable and that we can operate a school. If we run across something that’s not working, it’s taken care of,” he said, noting that the public works staff is “very quick” to respond to problems.

The Town Council is expected to vote on measures at its March 14 regular meeting to approve the cost of the renovation and to allow for the bonding of $65 million to help pay for the town’s share of the renovation. The SHS renovation plan would add a new west wing to the campus on King Street and make repairs to the current building as well as expand the auditorium and add a practice field to the main campus.

Stratford is expected to receive about $73 million in state reimbursement and will pay about $52 million on its own.

Council Chairwoman Beth Daponte, who had questions about renovations, said after a Feb. 18 renovation workshop that she supports the project going forward.

“In the long run, the renovation should produce positive educational outcomes and make the town a more attractive place to raise a family. Thus, I strongly support the project,” Daponte said in a letter published in last week’s Star.


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Editor for the Stratford Star. Former reporter for the Darien Times.

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