Complex completed

Photo courtesy of Luke Marshall from the Citizens News
January 25, 2015

On Friday night, hundreds of spectators packed the sports facilities at Naugatuck High School to see the Greyhounds do battle in the swimming pool against Pomperaug and on the basketball court against Sacred Heart.

Nearby, students on the football and track and field teams used a weight room with brand new equipment.

Student athletes are competing and practicing in a brand new, state-of-the-art complex that was completed as part of an $81 million renovation of the entire high school. The project is slated to be completed in the fall.

The project, which began in April 2013 and is being completed by O&G Industries Inc., just entered into its fifth and final stage, known as Phase 4B. It will include renovating about a dozen classrooms, the Davis Auditorium and the main entrance.

So far, the project has been a resounding success, and everyone involved says they are excited by what they see, said Burgess Bob Neth, chairman of the high school renovation committee.

"This project is on schedule and under budget, which has been really important to the committee," he said.

While the athletic complexes are impressive, the classrooms are top notch, too, said Principal Janice Saam.

Last week, the school brought students into 13 new classrooms on the even side of the building. Eight English, one social studies, one physics and three special education classrooms have been renovated.

They boast new, modern looking desks with cherry wood tops and chairs that recline slightly. Each room also has new Whiteboards and Smart Boards. There are also new learning laboratories, including an English language lab and science laboratories, throughout the building.

Work has now begun on classrooms on the odd side of the building. Those classes will be held in temporary classrooms and in the resource center until the end of the year.

The classroom moves happened over last weekend and on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. School on Tuesday was delayed so teachers could prepare before students arrived.

It marked the last major move of the school year, Saam said. She said there will be two smaller moves over Presidents Day weekend and during April break.

Despite all of its success, the project has seen some minor setbacks. The building committee had to take $100,000 out of its contingency budget to add 40 seats and make beams smaller, allowing for better visibility, after parents complained about beams being in the way of sight lines and the seats being too high to see one lane of the pool.

The school is also having some delays in fixing the auditorium due to some unexpected structural problems. This means students will probably not be able to have their traditional end-of-the-year performances at the school.

"Granted, when you have a project of $81 million, you are going to have some issues good and bad," Neth said. "But as time goes on, if there is an issue we address it immediately. And we're extremely happy with the way the project has been progressing."