The School Board’s finance committee discussed possible uses for Fitch Middle School Monday, including housing the school department's administrative offices, the Fitch High School robotics program and an alternative school.
Groton closed Fitch Middle School in June, to save money and consolidate from three middle schools to two. Now the building, which is already being used by the parks and recreation department, could also be used by other town departments like human services.
The Board of Education will discuss the options at its next committee of the whole meeting Dec. 17.
School Facilities Director William Robarge said it costs about $140,000 to keep Fitch Middle in "caretaker mode", most of which is spent on electricity and fuel oil. A large portion of the building is used for storage of classroom supplies, books, furniture, and copies of student records, he said.
The school board could give the building to the town, but it seems unlikely to do so. If the school department surrendered ownership of the building, it would not be able to use the school as swing space during renovations at other schools, without spending millions to bring the building up to code. The school department does not have to meet those same code requirements if it retains the building.
The finance committee discussed several options for building Monday, including moving central administrators out of their offices on Flanders Road and into Fitch Middle.
Robarge said the savings in energy costs from the move would be about $100,000 annually. The school department would have to invest about $30,000 to accommodate technology, he said.
The finance committee asked him to return with estimates on the cost of the move itself.
The committee also discussed expanding the high school robotics program into space at the middle school and creating an alternative school. Groton had an alternative school years ago but closed it due to budget cuts.
Board Chairwoman Kirsten Hoyt said she would reach out to Town Mayor Heather Bond Somers about whether town departments would be interested in using some of the space. School Board Member Robert Peruzzotti said splitting some costs with the town would make sense.
“The sooner we do something, the more money we’re going to save,” he said. “We don’t want the school to sit for too long in the condition it’s in because it doesn’t do anybody any good.”