WESTFIELD – The City Council debated on Dec. 10 about putting $1 million into a capital fund for projects in the Westfield Public Schools, before ultimately deciding to deposit a total $4.3 million into stabilization instead. The majority of councilors said they were in favor of funding the projects in the schools, but some thought the proposal had been rushed.
“The items that they picked are outstanding capital items that needed to be done for some time,” said Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski this week.
He said the capital expenses under consideration included money for science labs in Westfield High School and Westfield Technical Academy, upgrades for two shops at WTA, and fixing the swimming pool at WHS.
All of the items except for the swimming pool had originally been in the school budget before it was cut last spring, he said.
“The pool is a recent issue. The filters broke, and we need to have extensive repairs,” Czaporowski said, adding that currently students are practicing at Westfield State University. He said the pool is a big deal, because swim coach Thomas Lewis is at over 300 wins.
Two other immediate needs are in the tech shops. Auto Technology needs a new auto lift, and Construction Tech needs a dust collection system. Czaporowski said both are safety issues.
He said the district had wanted to do some sprucing up of the science labs at both high schools, which have been cited by accreditation teams. They already did some work in the labs last year, repairing sinks and electrical outlets. He said with the investment the Council was talking about they would put in fuel hoods for exhaust, some of which are not working, and address storage for chemicals.
Czaporowski said that WHS is now on an engineering pathway and has to transform one of the science labs into an engineering classroom. He said they applied for a $100,000 Capital Skills grant last year for this purpose, but did not receive it.
Czaporowski said the district is appreciative that the Ccuncil and the mayor want to infuse some money into capital needs, because they are needed. He said all of the items on the list are one-time expenditures.
“We weren’t made aware of the extra funding until the week before. I appreciate that they wanted to do those things, and I hope we’ll be able to get some of these things done before the end of the school year,” Czaporowski said.