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Stamford schools become first in CT to receive funding to improve school air quality

Lelsy Cosme Torres
Connecticut Public
Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz called air filtration systems a "vital party of school infrastructure" when announcing Stamford would be the first public school district in Connecticut to receive funding for air quality improvement.

Stamford will be the first public school district in Connecticut to receive $2.7 million in funding to improve air quality systems inside city schools, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz announced Tuesday.

Bysiewicz made the announcement from Stamford’s Julia Stark Elementary School, which will also benefit from the funding. The money will go to seven schools across the city and will come from the HVAC Indoor Air Quality Grants Program for Public Schools. Bysiewicz said the air filtration systems are a vital part of school infrastructure and many schools have not had any upgrades or improvements in decades.

“We learned during COVID how it’s important to have very modern ventilation heating and cooling systems to make sure that viruses — flu and other airborne diseases — are not spread in schools,” Bysiewicz said. “We need a healthy environment for our children, but also for our staff and teachers.”

Gov. Ned Lamont announced last year that $450 million in grant funding will be allocated to schools across Connecticut to upgrade their HVAC systems. The funds can be used for installing, replacing, upgrading, or repairing heating, cooling or ventilation systems.

Bysiewicz said Stamford’s public school district is the first in the state to receive funding because it was the first to submit the application for the grant and was specific about the project plans. The state has also identified the city as a school district in need.

During the peak of the pandemic it was learned that the city has very aging infrastructure that was not being remedied because it wasn’t a visible problem, according to Cindy Grafstein, the System Chief Facilities Officer for Stamford Public Schools.

“This administration has determined, with the understanding of air quality and how it affects learning environments in terms of humidity and heat, to invest and allow these types of projects to get state funding,” Grafstein said.

“I think we’re gonna see a whole new landscape of schools in the next five years,” Grafstein said.

Lesley Cosme Torres is an Education Reporter at Connecticut Public. She reports on education inequities across the state and also focuses on Connecticut's Hispanic and Latino residents, with a particular focus on the Puerto Rican community. Her coverage spans from LGBTQ+ discrimination in K-12 schools, book ban attempts across CT, student mental health concerns, and more. She reports out of Fairfield county and Hartford.

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