CHESHIRE —Before the pandemic, many residents were focused on the future of the town’s school buildings.
It was expected that a plan for improving school infrastructure would be in place by fall and work could begin as soon as 2021.
All signs point to that timeline being pushed back, however.
At a School Modernization Committee meeting early last month, the panel unanimously decided to hire Colliers International to help the town develop a proposal. At the meeting committee members also warned the work could be pushed back.
“We’ve already lost two months (due to COVID-19) and our timeline was already aggressive to begin with, and now it may be close to impossible,” said committee member AnnMarie Kemp.
At the most recent Board of Education meeting on May 21, School Modernization Committee liaison Andrew Martelli reiterated that sentiment.
“…There’s a lot of questions about the timing of [the project]. Initially, we were aiming for a referendum in November,” Martelli said. “But it has been talked about and decided that we are going to be cautiously moving forward and we don’t think we are going to have the project ready by November.”
Martelli said that due to COVID-19 restrictions the group has been unable to assess the state of all school buildings in person.
Board member Adam Grippo asked Martelli to explain further why the group felt the November referendum would not be possible.
“… in order to go to referendum we would have to have something ready by September, which would have to be a project that we (put before the) voters,” Martelli said.
“Sadly, the Committee has lost two months-plus. If we had Colliers International back in March, we might’ve been able to do something,” said Board of Education Chair Tony Perugini. “But in order to have a timeline drawn out and be able to give the voters ample time to understand the process … it’s going to take a while.”
While the School Modernization Committee will still try to get something on the ballot for the November referendum, Perugini and Martelli agree that they don’t want to rush something this important.
“So, does this push the timeline out another year?” asked Grippo.
Both Perugini and Martelli responded with uncertainty, but assured their fellow members that they are doing everything they can to move the committee forward through these unprecedented times.