Oysterponds School to fix broken oil tank pipe

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | During the Oysterponds Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night at the elementary school in Orient, Superintendent Joan Frisicano, right, and Dorothy-Dean Thomas, the board's vice president, discussed repairing a broken pipe on the school’s underground oil tank.

The Oysterponds school board Tuesday authorized spending $9,400 to repair a broken pipe on the school’s underground oil tank.

Earlier this year, the district appropriated $1,500 to fix the oil tank’s alarm after the county health department found it wasn’t functioning properly. When workers started to repair the alarm, they found evidence of water and sand in the tank, most likely caused by a broken pipe.

“I’m concerned about what else they might find wrong with it after they dig it up,” board member Linda Goldsmith said. Ms. Goldsmith said she wants to increase the amount as a precaution in case workers stumble on other issues with the oil tank.

But the school board agreed to start with allocating $9,400 for the job and to vote on another contract amendment if needed.

“We won’t know what’s down there until they dig it up,” Trustee Jeff Demarest said.

In other business, Superintendent Joan Frisicano presented the board’s goals for 2012. They include supporting stronger student achievement and to start discussions about implementing a pre-Kindergarten program.

Ms. Frisicano said she believed more students will enroll if the school’s offerings extend from pre-K through sixth grade. The district is also looking into the possibility of allowing children living outside the district to enroll in the pre-K program.

One resident said she was concerned about how an Oysterponds pre-K might affect neighboring schools’ programs. Ms. Frisicano said the district is in preliminary discussions to determine its options and the feasibility of such a program.

Other goals include improving communication within the district and community, as well as designing a five-year strategic plan to address building repair needs while working within the newly created 2 percent tax cap.

“We’re trying to make this a lighthouse district that other school districts will want to model after,” Ms. Frisicano said.

She added the board will look at ways of enhancing the district’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics program, known as STEM, and will explore the feasibility of investing in iPads. Although the initial cost is high, Ms. Frisicano said, the investment in iPads will pay for itself after a few years because digital books are cheaper than hard copies.

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