BOE looks to the future

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By Kim Becker

Pressure is mounting on the schools and Town in light of the revenue shortfall facing the State. Governor Malloy’s revised budget demands almost $4 million from Granby, including cuts to the ECS and shifting the cost of the State’s contributions to the teachers’ pension fund to municipalities. Though the Town passed a budget last month, deep funding cuts will make it difficult to maintain services.

The Board of Education and the school administration have been delving into ways to further reduce costs after closing Kearns Primary School. Dr. Alan Addley announced that an architect’s study of Granby Memorial High School has been completed and shows that the high school has capacity for another 960 students. Granby and East Granby’s Boards of Education are talking about having East Granby high school students attend GMHS. The capacity study shows that all East Granby high school students could be accommodated. The study has been forwarded to East Granby and talks will continue.
Another potential area for savings is in information technology. The Board heard from Jon Lambert, Director of Technology, who worked with Town staff to determine which efficiencies could be achieved by combining the IT services for the schools and the Town. A report has gone to the Town for later discussion. Rose Marie Weber expressed concern about privacy issues should the schools and Town merge IT functions. Lambert was confident that policies and protocols could be established to protect residents’ and students’ information.
Finally, Jenny Emery spoke about the finance subcommittee exploring energy savings through solar, either on school roofs or a standing array. Though it would be a challenging project with input needed from the State and Eversource, the savings would be substantial over the next 25 years. CREC consultants who have studied the issue believe that each system has potential for savings with the standing array providing energy for most needs. Roof panels would not provide as much energy and could have maintenance problems. The consultants will present their final report to the subcommittee in the next few weeks.
Technology update
Jon Lambert also updated the Board about the year’s achievements and next year’s goals. First, the internet speed at Central Services and in the middle and high schools has increased. Next year, Wells Road and Kelly Lane will receive similar upgrades to their systems. Also, internet safety was increased with new software. Second, the one-to-one computing initiative will be completed next year with the purchase of 12 Chromebook carts for Kelly Lane. Third, the District successfully managed several randomware and virus attacks. Lambert credited good backup systems as the reason they could quickly locate the problem and restore service. Fourth, the high school media lab received new computers. The middle school’s Technology Education lab will be upgraded next year. Last, Lambert is looking forward to a “hybrid” civics class at the high school that uses online education in the classroom.