Damaged floor to keep Shelton High gym closed

Shelton High School, in Shelton, Conn. Feb. 18, 2020.

Shelton High School, in Shelton, Conn. Feb. 18, 2020.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON - The high school gym will most probably be closed come the first day of school, according to school and city leaders.

The gym floor has been buckling and deemed unsafe for activities - such as physical education classes and athletic contests - since an accident during April break.

“The insurance company has deemed the floor needs to be replaced, so, in the meantime, there will be no use of the gym floor for any activities,” Superintendent Ken Saranich said.

According to Saranich, during an indoor baseball practice in April, a baseball player taking batting practice in an indoor batting cage hit a ball that went through an opening in the cage netting. The ball then struck a piece of the sprinkler system, breaking the valve and causing water to continually flow onto the floor.

“It was a sheer accident,” Saranich said.

Saranich said school maintenance was able to shut down the water, but the damage had already been done. It took time to dry out the area, but water seeped under the wood, causing buckling and makes it dangerous for students to play athletics on it.

In the meantime, the city has taken over the floor’s repair and replacement, since the high school is a city building. The city has been in touch with the insurance carrier, but Saranich said no firm dates on replacement have been set.

Some on social media and letters to the editor have criticized the city’s lack of response to this issue, but Mayor Mark Lauretti attributed the delays to difficulty obtaining materials and setting up the work - issues he says everyone, from private homeowners to municipalities, face in the wake of the pandemic.

“All of this takes time,” Lauretti said about replacing the gym floor, which is the original flooring from when the gym was constructed in the 1970s. “We did not even learn about this until June 1. I had no idea this occurred.”

As he deals with the insurance company on finalizing work dates, Lauretti said the gym will remain closed through the start of the school year at least. He offered no timetable for replacement.

Saranich said physical education classes will mostly be held outdoors, and varsity sports, particularly the fall volleyball season, would be relocated to another school gymnasium if the high school remains unavailable. Lauretti pointed out that Shelton Intermediate and Perry Hill schools have available gyms.