By Michael C. Juliano

The Board of Education on Tuesday discussed educational specifications for the proposed expansion of Fairfield Ludlowe High School to accommodate a growing enrollment.

The high school's current enrollment of 1,552 students is 10.8 percent over its existing capacity for 1,400 students, according to a draft educational specifications document at Tuesday's board meeting. The enrollment is projected to be 22.7 percent over its 2016-17 capacity designed for 1,525 students with the number of students expected to reach 1,718 that year.

The higher designed capacity, from 1,400 to 1,525 pupils, reflects an increase that would result from the proposed addition outlined in the specifications.

No price tag for the high school's proposed expansion was given Tuesday, but cost estimates are expected to be ready for the school board's vote on the plan, set for Jan. 29.

The project, proposed in conjunction with the board's Long Range Facility Plan, consists of adding two science classrooms and labs and four general purpose classrooms, expanding the cafeteria and kitchen and moving the senior lounge. It also involves replacing the windows with energy-efficient units, renovating the student lavatories, adding lockers and replacing the roof installed in 1991.

Superintendent of Schools David Title said the specifications were formulated because a request was made to the Board of Selectmen to set up a building committee for expansion of the cafeteria and addition of classroom space to address overcrowding. The initiative was made part of a recommendation in the plan to replace the school's windows.

"Those two components got the ball rolling on this," he said. "We also wanted to give the board a couple more options on this."

Title said the extra space and window replacement are critical, while he considers the renovation of the student lavatories and roof replacement to be optional.

Title said the expansion component would include placing the two science labs on top of the expanded cafeteria.

Board member Jennifer Maxon Kennelly asked if the other town boards would ask the school board to consider redistricting Ludlowe students to Fairfield Warde High School before giving support to expanding Ludlowe.

Vice Chairwoman Pamela Iacono said there is no room at Warde for more students.

"Moving people isn't going to fix anything," she said.

The specifications also state other deficiencies that the district does not intend to include in the specifications so that an architect does not consider those items in its design plans.

The project does not address several building deficiencies identified in the "Fairfield Public Schools Facilities Plan 2011-2015," such as the need for mechanical fresh-air systems, more storage rooms and increased security measures, the documents state.

A few members of the public commented on the overcrowding issue at Ludlowe.

"This year, we've reached our breaking point," Cathy Coyle, president of the Fairfield Ludlowe High School PTA, said, adding that teachers hold science labs from carts that they move from classroom to classroom. "Science teachers are choosing labs based on mobility, not on what's best to deliver the curriculum.";203-255-4561, ext. 112;