Guilford boards agree on need for new high school
Friday, October 24, 2008 7:03 AM EDT
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
GUILFORD — The town’s main governing boards appear to be in agreement with the school board’s recommendation to build a new high school.
At a workshop meeting with the boards of Selectmen, Finance and Education Thursday night, only Ted Zuse — who cast the sole vote against the plan when the Board of Education voted on it in August — said that he is not in favor of replacing Guilford High School.
The group did not take a vote on the topic, and several members of the boards of Selectmen and Finance said that they need to see more details on the project before deciding whether to send it to referendum.
Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella said that the school district is hoping to present a plan for the work to state education officials in June, because the level of funding the state provides for school construction could change at the end of this fiscal year. Currently, the state will reimburse up to 31 percent of the cost of the project.
Voters must approve the project before the district can send it to the state. The Board of Education has set the cost of building a new high school at more than $112 million.
Forcella said that a new school would allow the district to meet more of its educational goals, but he noted that the proposal could be a tough sell to voters in the current economic crisis.
“What we don’t want to do is send something to the voters in the state they are now, which is just doom and gloom,” he said. “We also need to educate people that, although things are bad now, you’re not going to start paying for this until 2012.”
Several people at Thursday’s meeting said that one of the main concerns they have heard from residents is that the district will tear down the school’s science wing, which was added in 1998.
First Selectman Carl Balestracci noted that Forcella said that there are three options for the 26,000-square-foot wing if a new school is built next to the current high school: tear it down, use it as a standalone building for other district programs, or attach the new building to the current structure. The district’s consultants on the project will be investigating each option, he said.