decision on school delayed
Marianne Lippard, Register Correspondent March 13, 2001
DERBY — The High School Building Committee put off a decision on where to build a new high school Monday night, causing delays that could push a public vote further back into the spring.
Aldermanic President Michael Kelleher, D-3, head of the building committee, said the panel must give the architect and construction manager more time to show cost differences of two proposals.
The committee has been studying two plans for a new school that would alleviate an overcrowding problem in the system. One proposal is to build a school near the current high school on Nutmeg Avenue. Another plan is being considered on undisclosed private land in another part of the city.
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"We're not going to the public to ask for funds until we know exactly what we're talking about," Kelleher said.
The committee originally hoped for a public vote on April 10. Last month, Kelleher said the referendum would likely take place in mid-May. As of last week, the committee was on target and planning for a referendum on the new school May 15.
But Monday night, Kelleher was skeptical about whether that would be enough time to get the project through.
"Hopefully it will be in May," Kelleher said.
The committee, which began meeting last December, has only until June 30 to submit a plan to the state Department of Education to qualify for 70 percent state reimbursement of the cost of the project.
Last year, voters rejected a $40.6 million plan to build a new high school and convert the existing high school, which houses grades 7 through 12, into a middle school.
Members of the Board of Education, Board of Apportionment and Taxation and Board of Aldermen have endorsed an alternative plan to build a new high school without a costly renovation.
During Monday's meeting, however, the committee spent much of the time discussing why plans to use portable classrooms or renovate and add to the old Lincoln School building on Minerva Street were put aside.
Community and Economic Development Director Richard T. Dunne said the Minerva Street project would cost approximately $35 million, including land acquisitions and residential relocations.
Dunne said the Lincoln School proposal had to be considered so the public would know all options had been explored.
"There's a perception out there that Minerva Street is a viable project," Dunne said.
Ann Searles, a member of the Board of Education, said the committee seemed to be rehashing options that had already been ruled out and not talking about the costs of the new proposals.
"I'd like to go forward," Searles said.
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