STAMFORD — A plan to expand the management of Stamford school facilities was approved this week, months after it was shelved due to budgetary constraints.

A new director of facilities and a facilities manager were part of Superintendent Tamu Lucero’s initial proposed 2020-21 budget, but because of the economic impact of COVID-19, those jobs were cut as part of a massive elimination of 136 positions.

But with the school district recently acquiring extra funds through COVID-19 relief from the state, Lucero proposed bringing the two positions on board.

She achieved this by using the relief fund money to pay for personal protective equipment that was previously purchased with the city’s federal CARES Act funds. That cleared up CARES funds she could use to pay for the two staffers.

But that arrangement also means that the funds for those two positions will dry up at the end of the school year, leaving the two spots in limbo.

Lucero said that can’t happen.

“We will need to make some really hard decisions because I don’t think these are two positions that can go away,” she said.

The director of facilities position will be in charge of the day-to-day functioning of school buildings in the Stamford district, oversight that will include building maintenance, custodial activities and other operations.

The additional facilities manager position that was approved on Tuesday is to directly oversee custodians in the school system.

“Being there in the evenings and the weekends and late in the afternoon, I think we would all agree that that would be really important,” Lucero said about the proposed manager of custodians.

Nicola Tarzia, who is the chair of the school board’s operations committee, said he was happy to approve the two jobs.

“Being in the middle of a pandemic, the cleaning is going to be a priority, PPE is going to be a priority, and I’m so happy and ecstatic that she’s able to utilize these funds,” he said.

He added, “The first priority is a clean and safe and efficient building, then you can allow the teachers to come in.”

ignacio.laguarda@stamfordadvocate.com