Parents’ frustrations over school repairs come to forefront

Public Improvement Building Committee (PIBC) meeting 9/14

The city’s most recent Public Improvement Building Committee (PIBC) meeting revealed that parents of students who attend some of the local elementary schools are fed up with how long it is taking for repairs and modifications to be made to their children’s buildings.

The public portion of the meeting got pretty heated as Jessica Sciamanna, a parent of students who attend Long Hill Elementary, looked to find out who and what was responsible for the delay on the school’s improvements

“I have been to all of the meetings that I have had to go to,” said Sciamanna. “How many security meetings have you seen me at? How many Board of Aldermen meetings have you seen me at? I’ve even had conversations with the mayor. I’ve gone to his office personally — the bottom line is nothing gets done. As a parent and as a taxpayer and as a mother who is concerned about the safety of her children at Long Hill School, what do I need to do?”

Mark Holden, chairman of Shelton’s Board of Education, wasn’t at the meeting but later said the entire Board of Education is aware of the severity of the issues that are outstanding and it shares the same goal of wanting to fix them as soon as possible.

Motion for a special meeting among B.o.E

Bernie Simons, PIBC chairman, suggested a motion among the committee to put a request in to the Board of Education to hold a special meeting to “get the show on the road.” The committee discussed what aspects of the projects could be done while the children are in school.

“Somehow there has to be some sense of urgency that we have to get this thing finished,” said Simons. “Our committee has done this project twice now and we’ve called many special meetings to get this thing pushed through.”

How can work be done with students in school?

Jimmy Orazietti, former chairman of the committee and current member, assured parents that the students being in session at Long Hill had already been something the committee had figured into their plans to begin work on the schools in question.

“We talked about that with the contractor,” said Orazietti. “Because we have to move fairly quickly, you can’t do the work while there’s snow on the roof. The contractors, we already had it set up with them that they would work weekends and after school. If you think that we haven’t discussed this, we have.”

Transformation period

Orazietti suggested that the “transformation period” regarding former operations director and current member on the committee Bill Banfe could be a factor in why the process on these projects is being prolonged.

“Now that we’re in the middle of transformation, I can see how things get dropped,” said Orazietti.

He also added that parents should place more pressure on the state.

Banfe left his position of operations director five years ago, but the committee still praises all of the work he has done on various building projects in the city over the years.

Banfe tries to clear the air

Banfe interjected during the heated discussion, clarifying some of the details that potentially have been slowing up the three separate projects to the local elementary schools.

“A key ingredient in all of this whether it was Sunny or myself, was communication with the school facilities unit. That’s not part of the process that is written down somewhere, but it’s part of the process to make sure every ‘i’ was dotted and every ‘t’ is crossed.”

He added that Long Hill needing a roof could be a factor in speeding up the pace of the process.

“I shouldn’t say that it could be quicker, but it could be. A roof doesn’t carry all of the change orders and all of the decisions that have to be made. Fire marshal's examinations of the plans for a renovation of a school are endless. The roof is much different.”

Project in good hands

Banfe said he is very confident in the contractor the schools have dealt with in the past and are planning on using for these upcoming projects.

“We’ve had him twice in the past and if anyone can get the job done in this amount of time, I think he’s one of the contractors that can,” said Banfe.

The state didn’t approve a grant for the projects to begin until last Thursday, Sept. 10, at the Board of Aldermen meeting.

“The bottom line is we are not here to find the cheapest deal, we are here to find the best deal. The fact is, good isn’t cheap and cheap isn’t good,” said Simons.

Air quality at Sunnyside Elementary was also an issue that was brought up towards the end of the meeting, but nothing has yet to have been proven. According to a PTO member who was in attendance of the meeting, “people are getting concerned.”

B.o.E meeting 9/23

More details are to come on all aspects of this story following the upcoming Board of Education meeting, which will take place on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.