New Milford

New Milford Evaluating Options Following High School Fire

Parents and citizens express concern about what the upcoming school year could look like, while the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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A week after a fire left New Milford High School with heavy smoke and water damage, town officials are evaluating options for the fall.

In a letter to parents Tuesday, the superintendent’s office explained that the restoration company, Belfor, is still assessing classroom damage. How the high school begins the year will be dependent on the number of classrooms available.

With the school year plan still unclear, some parents worry.

“I just want my kid to have a normal high school experience. Which is not happening,” said Joana Chiappa, who has a son who will be a sophomore this year.

The first day of school is scheduled for Aug. 25. During Monday’s town council meeting, it was said that somewhere between 10 and 50 classrooms could be affected. The exact number remains undetermined.

Among the potential solutions discussed was temporary, portable classrooms - an idea not being universally embraced.

“I don’t find it acceptable at all,” Chiappa said. “I want my kid in school I want him to function with his friends. I want him to be able to move around.”

Mayor Pete Bass said there is still much to be decided, but there is one goal in mind.

“We want to make sure that the kids are in a safe place and in a place that they can learn,” Bass said.

The Fire Marshall said the fire is still under investigation and has not declared the cause. However, the fire started on the roof, where contractors were doing work using a blow torch to melt adhesive.

If this were the cause, the mayor said it would not be the first time, citing a smaller fire last fall.

“The contractor did do a hot patch the first time which did cause a fire,” Bass said.

The mayor said United Roofing & Sheet Metal was allowed to use the blow torch method in the fall because cooler weather meant temperatures were below the adhesive manufacturer’s recommendations. The process was not approved this time.

To further discuss the situation, there is a Board of Education meeting scheduled for Tuesday evening and a virtual town hall meeting Wednesday. There is also a special Municipal Building Committee meeting scheduled for this week.

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