Region 12 struggles with facilities question
Updated 10:10 am, Thursday, September 19, 2013
Null, who recently retired as the building official for the city of Danbury, called for caution Monday in making a final decision about possibly closing the region's three elementary schools and consolidating students in a new building.
"I've dealt with Kaestle Boos and other architectural firms for years," Null told the education board. "In Danbury, we finally razed a school and built a new one, then found out the census was wrong (on population projections). The city just put additions on three schools to handle the student population growth."
"Why not just bond for the work needed at Shepaug, and then deal with consolidating elementary students in one building at a later date, if needed?" Null asked.
First Selectman Mark Lyon and Board of Finance chairman Michael Jackson of Washington noted five to 10 years from now student population figures may grow.
They also reminded the region would then know if the state might plan to change small regions' districting.
A referendum date of Nov. 5 is being considered to ask voters if they want to change the regionalization plan, eliminating the requirement of having an elementary school in each of the three towns -- Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington.
A second yes-or-no question would be asked about building a new consolidated pre-K to grade 5 building for $23 million on the Shepaug Valley Middle/High School campus and do renovations and repairs at the existing building.
The board seems stymied in arriving at a dollar figure for repair work actually needed.
Numbers fluctuate from $1.7 million to $3.6 million. The figure climbs to as much as $20 million when projecting required repairs at Shepaug forward 20 years.
First selectmen of the three towns urged education board members Monday to take the question to the voters.
"I want you to go forward," said Barbara Henry, Roxbury first selectman. "I want the people to understand what they are voting for and how far this money they're being asked for will go."
"I'm all set, if you want to spend $3 million and repair Shepaug," said Bill Stuart, Bridgewater first selectman. "I'm all for that and we probably don't have to bond for it."
The next Region 12 Board of Education business meeting will be Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. in the Shepaug library.