The School Modernization Committee is beginning to finalize which plans it will ultimately recommend to the Town in regard to modernizing Cheshire’s school buildings.
Recently, the SMC asked its members to vote on various renovation scenarios in order to determine which scenarios they felt would be best for the community. The survey, designed by the group’s Options Subcommittee, was distributed to members and, at the SMC’s recent meeting on Jan. 4, Chair Jen Bates presented the results to the group.
Bates indicated that there were 13 different scenarios included in the survey, and ultimately six of them received the greatest number of votes.
During the meeting, Bates and the rest of the SMC agreed to begin narrowing their choices down even further, so they decided to focus on the top two choices.
“Once we have sufficiently narrowed down our options, our numbers will need to be refined,” said Bates, in reference to the financial impact of each scenario. “We can then present our options, as well as a backup plan, to the Town Council.”
Each of the 13 scenarios involves three or four phases that detail what is going to be done, and when. The first phase of each scenario is, according to Bates, what would likely be sent to referendum this coming November, after a final decision is made by the Town Council as to which of the scenarios is preferred.
The scenario that received the most votes was titled “2A RENO,” the first phase of which involves building a brand-new middle school that will house grades 6 through 9. The second phase would include building a new Chapman Elementary School on the property where Chapman already stands.
Phase three would involve the renovations of the other three elementary schools in the District — Highland, Doolittle, and Norton. Phase four would tackle renovations at Cheshire High School.
The scenario that received the second-most support from SMC members is called “1A RENO,” with phase one calling for the building a new K-6 elementary school. Phase two calls for renovating Dodd Middle School and the rest of the established elementary schools. Finally, phase three will include renovating CHS.
In all of the 13 scenarios, Darcey School would no longer be used by the District and the facility would be turned over to the Town for possible use, while pre-K students would move to Highland School.
None of the 13 scenarios include any work on Humiston, which not only houses the District’s administrative offices, but also serves as an alternative high school for Cheshire students. During the meeting, member Charles Neth suggested a possible solution.
“In the 2A RENO option, Dodd would serve as the swing space during the elementary school renovations and, at the end of that, can the BOE and Humiston move into Dodd?” he asked.
“The Options Committee recommends that SMC look into a leased space for Humiston and the BOE,” answered Andrew Martelli, Options Subcommittee member.
Despite the survey pointing to six viable scenarios, the exact cost associated with each has yet to be determined. That, Bates said, will be the next step for the committee.
“The Town of Cheshire Finance Department still needs to review the scenarios and determine a score for the financial impact column of the matrix,” Bates said. “Jim Jaskot (Town finance director) will get his information together in time for the Jan. 20 meeting.”
More information about each of the scenarios is available on the Cheshire School Modernization Committee Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CheshireSchoolModernizationCommittee.