SOUTHINGTON — At Thursday’s night’s Board of Education meeting, the chairman announced that the board is unanimously against the proposal for the nonprofit Bread for Life building next to Derynoski School on Main Street.
“Our priority is the safety of our children,” school board chairman Brian Goralski said.
Goralski said the board supports Bread for Life and its mission and what it does for the town, but said the board does not support the application.
Since word of the proposal got around town, parents have voiced worry about the safety of their children with the organization operating so close to the elementary school. Dozens of emails have been sent to School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr., members of the Planning and Zoning Commission, the school board, and other town officials from worried parents.
School board member Patricia Queen asked that two more emails from concerned parents be entered into the record at the beginning of the meeting Thursday night.
Parents have been reviewing statistics and have concerns about the homeless people the center serves. In emails from parents provided to the Record-Journal by the Planning Department, many support Bread for Life, but don’t agree with the location. In one email a parent stated that “it only takes one misguided individual to devastate not only a school, but our whole world as well.”
Bill McDougall, the Bread for Life chairman, has invited concerned parents to come down to the pantry to see firsthand what goes on there.
Bread for Life prepares and distributes 35,000 meals annually. The organization hopes to construct a building next to the school that will consolidate its operations. The food pantry operates five locations in town.
The Planning and Zoning Commission tabled the site application on Sept. 17 and decided to hold a public hearing on Oct. 15 to gather community input on the proposal before making a decision.
Before announcing Thursday that the school board doesn’t support the proposal, Goralski read an email sent to the board from Planning and Zoning Commission chairman Michael DelSanto . In the email, DelSanto asked for the board’s thoughts and any concerns on the proposal before the public input session.
Goralski said the board would get back to DelSanto with a response soon.