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New Canaan Schools Want Saxe Auditorium Fixed Up

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – When Alan Sneath looks at the Saxe Middle School auditorium, he sees a place that needs serious work with its aging speakers, damaged and ripped seats and old lighting.

Sneath, director of visual and performing arts for New Canaan Public Schools, is clear when he talks about how important it is to fix the auditorium. “It’s a necessity,” he said. “At some point, we have to move forward.” More people that just Saxe students use the facility, he said.

He and others in who work in the schools are hoping a $259,000 capital fund request is maintained in the proposed 2012-13 schools budget. School officials discussed the Board of Education spending plan Wednesday with the New Canaan Town Council. The overall schools budget request is more than $74 million, but the district is also asking for $1.07 million in capital improvements in all the buildings.

The sound system upgrades include a main speaker system, a surround sound system, an audio mixer and signal processing equipment and new microphones.

Facilities Director Bob Willoughby said the auditorium should be repaired soon because Saxe students use it for band concerts and other programs. It is also used by students in other New Canaan schools and outside organizations, including the Grace Community Church, which rents the building Sundays. The auditorium has not been renovated since Saxe opened in 1957 as the original New Canaan High School, Willoughby said. “At some point, you need to say let’s get it done."

Town Council members questioned whether the auditorium and Saxe gymnasium renovations should be included compared with other projects, such as upgrading the middle school’s world language lab, a $150,000 project deferred for another year. The auditorium and gymnasium improvements were “nice to have,” council member E. Roger Williams said Wednesday, but may not be priorities when compared with other needs.

The Town Council will continue meeting with departments to discuss their requests next Wednesday.

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