CHESHIRE — One school building toured; seven more to go.
The School Modernization Committee, tasked with forming a plan for modernizing the town's school buildings by September, toured its first school building last week. The group assembled at Dodd Middle School, a building now more than 60 years old.
AnnMarie Kemp, who chairs the committee, said Dodd's administration led the panel through several classrooms as well as common areas, including the cafeteria, media center and gymnasium.
“We got a good sense of the building overall,” Kemp said. “The school looks good. It's well kept, it's clean. They just finished replacing the ceiling tiles because the roof leaks. There would be water stains in the tiles. Everything is being done to keep the appearance looking nice.”
Dodd’s roof and windows will need to be replaced, Kemp said. Expanding the building to allow for the addition of another grade is another issue.
District officials have sought to expand Dodd's current seventh and eighth grade configuration to include sixth grade.
Paul Bowman, Town Council vice chairman and a member of the committee, said in its current construction, Dodd wouldn't fit the expanded model.
“The determination the committee would need to come up with is whether we can add onto Dodd, or look into a different school somehow. We're still weighing those options,” Bowman said.
Kemp said during the Jan. 15 tour administrators reported ongoing issues with moisture in the building. But the school's maintenance staff have been able to keep those issues at bay.
“There's no mold in the building,” Kemp said. “Everything is up to code. It [the moisture issue] is something to continually examine and repair.”
The size of common spaces, like the cafeteria, is another issue. “they currently have four lunch breaks to accommodate students” Kemp said. “Dodd is at maximum capacity for common spaces.”
Bowman seemed in agreement about the building and capital expenses that would be required to maintain the building.
“Dodd is a school we would continue to spend money on,” he said.
The committee won't have a full sense of the district's school building needs until the group has toured each building
“I think we have to visit each school and really evaluate what we have, and what needs to be done,” Bowman said. “I think it's obvious we've got some capital projects to improve those schools.”
Cheshire High School is the next school building the committee will tour, Kemp said. That tour is currently scheduled for Feb. 3, and will be followed by a committee meeting.