Editor, The Cheshire Herald:
Cheshire citizens may soon have the responsibility of making a decision at referendum to endorse the first phase of construction as part of the plan that is being developed by the School Modernization Committee. Therefore, each week we will be writing a letter to the editor providing important facts to aid you in making that determination.
The first question we have heard from citizens is: “Why do we need to modernize our schools?”
Let me briefly explain. The schools in our town are old. Most were built in the 1950s. The newest school in town was completed in 1971 while the oldest was built in 1912. The average age of our schools is over 69 years old. Over the years, there have been additions put onto the schools and the town has done regular maintenance, but no school has ever been fully renovated. The town is spending millions of dollars each year, but can’t keep up with the many needs of our old facilities.
Staff regularly express concerns about maintenance and environmental issues, such as heating systems that don’t work properly, windows that leak or don’t open, roof leaks, humidity issues, and lack of air flow. There are handicap accessibility issues. There are security issues. Many rooms are inappropriate for modern programs with little or no storage, and furniture that does not allow flexible grouping. Some of the schools have poor layouts that inhibit many programs such as drama and music. Science labs are poorly designed and in need of updating. And there are serious safety concerns regarding bus drop-off areas crossing the path of parent/student drivers.
If we build a new school or do a complete renovation of a school, then the State provides a substantial reimbursement. (I know, it’s still your tax money, but those funds are now going to all the other towns in the State that are doing construction.) In addition, according to a recently-completed demographic report, our elementary schools will see an increase in enrollment over the next decade and will soon be over capacity.
So what do we do? That is the question the School Modernization Committee is trying to determine. They have spent a year studying the problem and are working hard to come up with an effective instructional solution that also takes into account the financial constraints of the town and its citizens. Stay tuned, and over the next few months we’ll “dive” into the details, as the first phase of a solution is determined. In the meantime, we encourage you to follow us at “Cheshire School Modernization Committee” on Facebook to stay fully up to date.
School Modernization Committee