EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 31, 2013

Officials weighing school use during vacation

ANDOVER — Officials are working to open up school facilities to outside use during school vacation periods, but a 2009 policy change is making it difficult.

As part of Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski’s goals for the current year, officials must develop a policy “that enables the efficient and effective use of buildings and facilities” beyond their intended purposes when not being used due to vacations.

One way to accomplish that is to open up one of the town’s school buildings during April vacation to the town’s Department of Community Services.

It is something Kim Stamas, DCS recreation coordinator, has had her sights on for a while.

“This is huge with us and with the residents,” Stamas said. “We used to always offer camps during every vacation. Then, years ago, the Plant and Facilities director had this new energy plan, and his plan was to close every school during vacation except for the high school.”

That policy change is proving to be a challenge for all parties involved today. Under the policy, school facilities would be closed down during such vacation periods to save on energy and heating costs, according to Stapczynski.

“We’d do basketball, baseball, lacrosse, whatever sport was within the season,” Stamas said. “That completely eliminated any programs we could do during the vacations.”

Sometime in the coming weeks, officials will sit down, review the policy and see if a new proposal could come forward to benefit the town’s energy needs and the programmatic needs of both the Department of Community Services and Andover Youth Services. The earliest something could be tested is during April vacation, scheduled for April 15 through 19.

“I want to have a good discussion of it,” Stapczynski said.

With the ongoing work toward a new youth center in town, Stapczynski said that if a school facility were to be opened up for DCS use, that wouldn’t change when the youth center comes online.

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