Accusations flew this week at the Region 12 Board of Education meeting.

Bridgewater board members tried to block the proceedings as the board moved to hire architectural firm Fletcher-Thompson to do pre-referendum specs and to promote the building of a new pre-K-5 school on the Shepaug campus.

In the end, Fletcher-Thompson was approved in an 8-4 vote to be hired for $102,000 and project management firm Arcadis was hired for $41,400 to oversee the architects' work -- again by an 8-4 vote.

"Any architect knows these projects don't happen without full community support," said Vice Chairman Alan Brown of Bridgewater. "Was there some kind of concession of prowess by this firm to get all communities behind this project?"

Brown then said that it was "specious" that details on architectural firms' bids for the work were not presented to the full board by the Building Committee.

"Details may not have been necessary because the vote" was already set, Brown said, alluding to the fact that the Building Committee is composed solely of Washington members.

The hirings were carried by Washington board members' votes.

Bridgewater board members -- Brown, Susan Stumpf and Michael Sinatra -- and Roxbury member Kelly Lott have fought the proposal to close the three existing elementary schools and build one consolidated pre-K-5 school on the Shepaug campus.

A referendum question about the proposed change is being fashioned with a date still to be set.

Parents in Bridgewater have revived Save Our Schools to block the closing of Burnham School in their town.

"It's irresponsible to spend $144,000 before the referendum decision is known," Lott said.

Building Committee Chairman Greg Cava supported the hiring.

"We'll have a good manager and architect working together," Cava said. "They solved problems and did a better job than anticipated on Burnham School repairs and brought the project in under budget. Having preliminary work done assures we're not wasting our money."; 860-355-7322