Woodbridge Selectmen ponder school issues

Woodbridge Selectmen ponder school issues
Town Hall where the Woodbridge Board of Selectmen meet

Beecher roof repair and Amity budget crisis discussed

By Sheila McCreven-Helfenbein, Correspondent
Orange Bulletin September 20, 2001 edition

The Woodbridge Board of Selectmen (BOS) met as scheduled on September 12th. They discussed a number of issues, among them the status of the Beecher Road School South roof repair and the Amity School District's budget woes.

Beecher roof update
At their August meeting, the BOS had reported that they had authorized the Woodbridge School District Superintendent, Peter Madonia, to submit an application to the CT State Department of Education (CSDE) for grant money to help pay for the roof repairs that are now in urgent need. They also approved the preparation of preliminary design documents, which must be completed by an architect or registered engineer according to state guidelines, as an initial step in getting the project underway.

Town administrative officer Joseph Hellauer reported to the Board on September 12th that the state received the district's application on August 3rd. He said that this date of receipt might affect the timing of the approval of funding, but that he did not have a definitive answer yet from the state on this. 

Hellaur continued, informing the Selectmen that eight proposals to prepare the preliminary documents have been received to date. He said that four of these came from companies that have principals who are residents of Woodbridge. The town building committee for this project – comprised of Hellauer, Madonia, and Woodbridge Board of Education member Gary Desir – will now sift through the proposals and offer a recommendation to the BOS for their next meeting.

09-20-2001 newspaper
The 09-20-2001 edition of the Orange Bulletin

A new roof was put in place on this south portion of Beecher Road School in July of 1982 at a cost of $292,000. It was previously estimated by Hellauer that the cost to do this job today will be roughly twice that amount.

The timing of the actual roof replacement work is uncertain, as paperwork continues to slow the process, but Hellauer described himself as optimistic. He remarked to the Board last week "If we can get this work done in the spring we will be happy."

Amity budget update
On the Amity budget front, the Selectmen heard a report on recent developments at the Financial Advisory Panel meeting, held September 5th, from First Selectman Amey Marrella. Also, a meeting summary of the Amity Board of Education meeting, held September 10th, was given to the Board by Marrella and BOS member Steven Bortner, who both attended.

At the ABOE's September 10th meeting, a long line of parents, staff and students rose to speak on behalf of the schools. Overall, public comment was seen by Bortner and Marrella to have been in favor of keeping program and teacher's salaries intact and limiting any cuts to the current ABOE budget. 

Marrella explained that the ABOE's Budget Committee has instructed the district administration to come back with details of the impact of any cuts under consideration. This information is now expected at a meeting this week.

The Board discussed three possible avenues to resolve the budget gap;

            1) The ABOE could initiate cuts to its operating budget to close the gap.

            2) A referendum could be called in the three Amity towns to approve additional funds for the regional school district.

            3) Additional funds could be raised by alternate methods, such as imposing fees for sports and other extra-curricular activities, or by private funding from parent and community contributions.

The BOS agreed to continue to seek out a meeting with the Woodbridge representatives to the ABOE. It was reported that scheduling of such a meeting has been difficult, given the number of budget-related meetings already planned. But the BOS plan to offer to meet on either a Friday evening or even over the weekend if this is the only time available. Notice of such a meeting will be posted no later than 24 hours in advance, at both the Town Clerk's office and the Library.

Center Building security & repair
In a move to deal with unauthorized entry to the Center Building, the Selectmen will be receiving information at a future Board meeting on a proposal to install a magnetic key system that will help limit access and create a record of each entry. Minor vandalism, discovered upon opening the building in the morning, has been reported in the past. The Board was informed that it has been difficult to pin down who has had access overnight at these times.

 Money was allocated in the current fiscal year's budget to re-key the building, and this money may be utilized to install the magnetic key system in place of old-fashioned metal keys, if the Selectmen decide to go this route. The proposed system would utilize a credit card-like plastic embedded with a magnetic stripe that would be swiped through a card reader at each entrance to buzz open the door. It was reported that these cards can not be duplicated, and that individual cards can be deactivated remotely, should there be a need to bar access. 

Also in store for the Center Building is some minor roof repair. It was reported that the building has developed its own leak, directly above Superintendent Madonia's office.