It was built in 1929 as Branford’s High School and must have been state of the art at the time. Today that’s not the case.
is so antiquated that principal said the PA system installed when the school opened varies so much in decibel levels that some teachers almost have to cover their ears. Others she said are going, ‘Can you please turn that up a little bit?’” Iwanicki-Smith addressed members of the town, the and the earlier this month. The facilities committee who meets once a month is touring the school district's buildings to evaluate the properties.
Though upgraded in the 1950s, Sliney’s PA system has not been updated since and doing so could be an expensive challenge if it required drilling through the walls, explained Iwanicki-Smith.
Schools Facilities Director Mark Deming said about 40 percent of tests taken from Sliney come back positive for asbestos. Because of this, he told the group at the meeting in late August, the entire building is treated as though it has asbestos. Just to stick a drill into the wall to hang something as simple as a corkboard costs $300, he said.
The solution has been to use glue or tape to mount boards and other classroom essentials to the walls and to run wiring into and around classrooms through wall mounted tracks. There is no danger to student health if a teacher was to stick tack in the wall, Deming assured Nancy Kendrick, school PTA president.
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One fourth-grade classroom has a SMART Board, said Iwanicki-Smith and a rolling computer lab offers tablets to teachers for use, but technology is another reason many agree Sliney is not up to date. Drilling SMART Boards into the walls is not an option, she said. In addition to technology, Iwanicki-Smith notes that classroom space, parking and poor facilities are also issues of the school (see list below).
While just about everyone at the meeting held at Sliney School in one of only two rooms with a window air-conditioning unit agreed that the school is not adequate for students, the decision about what to do is not an easy one to make.
“I think this building has a lot of charm but it’s probably not suitable for elementary students,” said AD Hoc Facilities committee member. Adding, “The bottom line is that this school is not what we want it to be for our district; you can go to every single building and have that same discussion.”
Nelson cautioned the members to make a decision about Sliney’s future with the whole district in mind. He suggested all elementary schools be surveyed to find if their classes and their facilities meet their needs before advancing on a decision about Sliney
, AD Hoc Facilities committee member and RTM representative said to the group, “It would be challenging for me to say, ‘Yeah, let’s build a new school.’ It would be hard for me to give relevant comments without having more data.”
BOE Chair Frank Carrano assured Milici that once the group had helped make some suggestions as to what to do with Sliney, a coast analysis could be made between renovating Sliney or building new.
“There’s a lot of people who love Sliney and I can’t say that enough,” said Iwanicki-Smith. “As much as they want it renovated, there’s a lot of push back because they don’t want it renovated because of the history the building has.”
In touring the space, Iwanicki-Smith mentioned to Patch that there’s a certain feeling the school gives off from its architecture and old-fashioned charm. Before the group she said, “When you come into the school there’s a feeling here that’s just wonderful.” But she also said, “What was the school really designed to do and is it the best environment to teach elementary school children?”
did a lot of listening about Sliney School and noted that it, along with and , is a property that needs attention. The charm aspect of Sliney, he said, is not a selling point for him. “Is that what we tell kids who come through our school? It’s really, really charming?”
Most were in agreement that something needs to be done about the four-level former high school that is not fit for elementary students but Nelson pointed out that perhaps turning an asbestos-rich building back to the town might not be an attractive thing either.
Nelson said, “Our recommendation as a committee is to say we need to do something with Sliney but I’m not sure what.”
The facilities committee at for a tour of their space including a look at the .
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Main Issues with Sliney School according to Iwanicki-Smith
Asbestos walls make it hard to update the school to have more modern technology.
Some teachers feel classrooms are not big enough. There’s not enough storage.
There are only 10 parking spots behind Sliney School.
The library is now held in a large classroom and does not meet the school’s needs. There is no media center because the library is too small.
The school gymnasium is located in the basement of the school does not have good air circulation.
The plumbing needs to be flushed often due to an odor issue.
Air conditioning: there is one window air conditioner in the faculty lounge and one that is used in the nurse’s station.
Lack of faculty bathrooms
Lack of student bathrooms near the cafeteria
Playground is only large enough for half of each grade to use; the other half takes turns playing across the street at Hammer Field.