WALLINGFORD — A community forum regarding the future of the school facilities will take place next month, with one session being in-person and the other taking place online.
The forum will take place virtually from 5 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 11. The in-person meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. The in-person meeting’s location is to be determined.
“Where we can do a question and answer for the community members, parents, students, staff, whomever would like to attend,” Superintendent Danielle Bellizzi said at the meeting.
Bellizzi said the board will send out a document to community members to give them the opportunity to ask questions or make comments prior to the forums.
“So that we can get their questions ahead of time, I can put together a document which has their questions and then some of the answers and we can share that on January 11 and still take additional questions from the public,” Bellizzi said.
In October, Silver / Petrucelli and Associates architects presented a report that outlined options for townwide improvements to the public schools, including consolidating the high schools in one building vs. renovating the two existing buildings.
The study looked at improvements to the schools at every grade level, as well as the possibility of moving the central office, the adult education program and a transition program into the current police department building.
Following the public forums, the Board of Education will come together to make the decision as to what facilities projects they want to go ahead with when it comes to the middle schools and high schools. Board Member Michael Votto made a motion at a prior board meeting that the board will focus first on the high schools and/or middle schools.
Some of the project options that the board will consider are: renovating both middle schools and both high schools as new; consolidating the middle schools into one building, but renovating both high schools as new; consolidating the high schools into one building, but renovating both middle schools as new; consolidating the high schools into one building and consolidating the middle schools into one building.
In a previous meeting, David Stein, principal architect with Silver / Petrucelli and Associates, explained that renovate as new means that the renovation will certify that the aspects of the building will last for at least the next 20 years.
“You are going to basically touch almost every component of the building and the majority of the site and essentially certify that its longevity of anything that you touch will be there for 20 years plus,” Stein said. “Through that you are fully renovating every wall, every door, every mechanical system, windows, roof and all the code compliance that is required of that.”
The board will also decide whether they start the project off with just the middle schools, just the high schools or the project will begin with both the high schools and the middle schools. Their decision, according to Votto’s motion, has to be made by Jan. 15.
Ray Ross, vice chairperson of the Board of Education, said at the meeting he wants to make sure the public knows the board has not made its decision yet and will not make a final decision until the public forum takes place.
“I just want to be careful going into the public session that we don’t give the perception that we’ve already made up our mind because that will keep people away,” Ross said.
After the Jan. 11 forums, Bellizzi said the facilities committee along with Silver Petrucelli and Associates will be meeting with representatives from the Connecticut Office of School Construction Grants and Review to go over the facilities study. Board member Kathy Castelli said the meeting is scheduled for Feb. 6.
“To see if there is any guidance or any feedback that they can provide to us as we move through and make our decisions and move it on to the Town Council,” Bellizzi said.