Walk-through of Cheshire schools part of ongoing capital budget discussions 

Walk-through of Cheshire schools part of ongoing capital budget discussions 

reporter photo

CHESHIRE — Floor fans blew and stacks of boxes lined the hallways of several school buildings as town councilors did a walk-through Monday night.

With the council having reviewed other town departments’ capital budget requests, and having made other site visits to those facilities last week, it was the school department’s turn.

School officials had requested more than $3.5 million in capital improvements. Town Manager Sean M. Kimball’s proposed townwide capital expenditure plan and budget request reduces that figure to $3.395 million.

School Superintendent Jeffrey Solan, Chief Operating Officer Vincent Masciana and facilities manager Richard Clavet led the tour through Humiston, Doolittle and Darcey schools.

Some work, including bathroom upgrades at Doolittle School, are currently underway.

”...this (Doolittle) kitchen was renovated last summer,” Vincent Masciana said. “It is the second cafeteria we renovated. We have a few more to go.”

Solan said the renovations have improved the lunch lines, giving students more time to eat and socialize.

At about $600,000, the project with the biggest price tag is a proposal to replace Doolittle School’s boiler system.

Officials said the building’s current unit was installed in the 1980s.

Other projects include heating, ventilation and cooling systems at Cheshire High School ($310,000), Highland School ($450,000) and Dodd Middle School ($100,000).

Officials also proposed other district-wide improvements, including replacing ceiling tiles ($100,000), flooring replacements ($200,000) and school lavatory renovations ($250,000). Four schools — Norton, Highland, Chapman and Cheshire High School — are slated to receive cafeteria renovations over the next four years. Those projects total more than $5.2 million.

If the proposed projects are adopted as submitted, Cheshire High School and its athletic fields would also undergo improvements that include a $250,000 window replacement project and a $150,000 project to upgrade its football stadium lighting.

Other capital requests, including roof replacements at Doolittle, Norton and Dodd schools, have been earmarked for fiscal 2021, not for the current fiscal year. The five-year capital plan officials have proposed calls for a several projects to improve school buildings and grounds that total $28.6 million.

Town Councilor Tim Slocum, who chairs the budget committee, said Tuesday night's follow-up discussion with the Board of Education was in his view the most substantive to date.

Slocum said he felt Monday night's field trip, similar to previous visits to the Police Department building and Parks and Recreation :was very helpful — just to see some of the stuff in a hands on format.”

Of the capital budget requests so far presented, Slocum is skeptical about funding building improvements at Humiston, a 107-year-old building, a school he speculated “might be shuttering in five years.”

“I can't say what I most support. I mostly would be looking at what we can afford going forward,” Slocum said. “To me, this is way too preliminary. We haven't done enough to make a clear assessment.”




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