Superintendent holds ‘Listen and Learn’

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Enfield - posted Mon., Oct. 28, 2013
Chief Education Technology Officer Guy Bourassa assists Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeffery A. Schumann with the information session. Photo by Lisa Stone.
Chief Education Technology Officer Guy Bourassa assists Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeffery A. Schumann with the information session. Photo by Lisa Stone.

Enfield Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeffrey A. Schumann held an informational session called Listen and Learn at the John F. Kennedy School on Oct. 15 to update parents, guardians and parent advisory groups as well as community members on the current status and the future of the Enfield Public School system.

One question from the audience concerned how combining the town’s two high schools will affect the future of high school sports. “The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference states that if the school has one principal, they will only allow one team per sport,” said Schumann. “There are co-operative teams that are a combination of several schools to make up a team. If each school only has six players that are interested in playing a sport – hockey for instance – and there are two other schools that are in the same situation, all the players are combined to form one team. That is an option for some sports,” said Schumann.
“Basketball, football and soccer are sports that take several players, so there shouldn’t be a problem with those teams. We hope to accommodate as many players as possible,” he said.

The  plans have been drawn for the new wing to be added onto Enfield High to accommodate Enrico Fermi High School students, as the two schools are combined into one. The company that is working on the project is Silver/Petrucelli and Associates of Hamden, Conn. With the addition, EHS will be able to accommodate up to around 2,000 students.

The new wing is dubbed, the STEAM wing – an acronym for science , technology, engineering, arts and math.
Audience member Betty Wood asked Schumann if there would still be enough computer labs to accommodate the amount of students in the building. Chief education technology officer Guy Bourassa said, “I made sure that there are enough stations for the students to have the space and computer usage that is needed. The computer labs will be able to handle up to a total of 25 students... more than suitable for our needs.”

The students will remain at Fermi High until the wing is finished, probably by September 2016. At that stage, Fermi will no longer be considered a school. The future of the building is still undecided. There was a possibility of the Town taking the building over for their use, but no decision has been made.

“Would it be feasible for Fermi to be used as the middle school?” Wood asked.

“That is one possibility., Schumann said. “Right now, Fermi High is out of compliance with the Office of Civil Rights and there is so much work that would have to be done to meet the upgrade demands, I am not sure that would be something that the taxpayers are willing to fund”

The upgrades to Enfield High, along with the new STEAM wing, come to a grand total of $105 million. Of that, the State of Connecticut will reimburse 70 percent through grant money. That still leaves a burden of $31.5 million to the taxpayers. With the expected $20 million to $30 million  price tag for upgrading Fermi to meet the requirements to use it as a school, that could leave the taxpayers as much as an additional $9 million to pay after the 70 percent grant money.

The ground breaking for the STEAM wing is set for next June or July. “Things may be a bit hectic at first, but eventually it will all work out,” said Schumann. At the present time, there are approximately 1,500 students to accommodate in the high school. The expectations are that the new Enfield High will suit the needs of the students without any problem. In 2016, the present sixth- and seventh-graders will be high school students. The positive side of combining the high schools is that the students of the sixth and seventh grades are all in one school now. When they transition to high school, they will not have to lose friendships because they will all be in the same school there too.

Leigh Hart asked, “Our children are going to get used to armed guards in their schools. Will the money be there in two years to continue with that sense of security, or are we going to have to say to our children that everything is fine now, there is suddenly no need for that protection?”

“I have no answer to that,” said Schumann. “That is not something that I can predict. All I can say is that the School Resource Officer is a welcome addition to the schools. The students really take to the idea of an armed guard and the SRO is a vital asset to our schools. What the future holds, we just don’t know.”

When asked if there was ever any talk about allowing other personnel to carry some sort of weapon, such as a gun with rubber bullets, or a tazer gun, Schumann quickly assured the group that this had been brought up before. “We presented the idea to the police and the proper channels, but the outcome was that the SWAT team would enter the school if there ever was an emergency and they felt it would be necessary to start shooting anyone with a weapon. The answer to that would be, absolutely not.”
Schumann suggested that anyone with further questions or concerns call him at 860-253-6531.

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