PLYMOUTH - The lighting in the Terryville High School parking lots has improved since a month ago and people could see further improvement in the near future.
Board of Education member Gerard Bourbonniere brought up the lighting issue during a recent meeting. He said he was approached on election night about it by several people, including someone who said he tripped on a curb coming out after voting at the school.
“I think it’s a safety issue,” Bourbonniere said.
Phillip Penn, school district business manager, said the district’s first quote on the cost of replacing the lights was $139,000, Penn said. “I don’t think this board is in any position to have $139,000 to spend on lights.”
“We want to replace the lights, we absolutely do,” said Superintendent Martin Semmel at the meeting. “Looking back it would have been great if we were able to maybe rent some lights for election night.”
More recently, Semmel said that after the election the grounds director found about 10 lights that were burned out and moved the working bulbs to more strategic locations to improve the lighting.
“We did that on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so that made a world of difference right now,” Semmel said. “Right now we’re working with Eversource to replace all our lights at the high school to LEDs. I haven’t gotten an official quote but my understanding is it’s going to be somewhere in the area of $16,000.”
The idea is the district would continue to pay the same amount monthly to Eversource, with the savings from the LEDs going to pay for the new lights and ballasts when they are installed, he said.
“With our budget situation we can’t spend any additional funds at this point so it has to be budget neutral. If we can use our savings to pay for the upgrade that would be budget neutral,” Semmel said.
“One piece of the problem was just the timing of all this, with the sun going down earlier and then the clocks falling back an hour [in early November], and then we happened to have the election at the high school around the same time, it was kind of like this perfect storm. We wish we had changed up those 10 light bulbs sooner but we heard about it at the election and we got right onto making those changes,” he said.
If all goes well with Eversource, the LED switchover could happen during winter break, he added.
Semmel said if any board member hears about a concern from a member of the public they should contact him or Penn directly, “because we will get on top of that as quick as we can.”
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Susan Corica on Twitter @coricaBP.