Derby has few options after 2nd school building vote defeat 
 FELICIA HUNTER      fhunter@ctpost.com     Tuesday, July 10, 2001   5:52 AM MST

DERBY -- The defeat of a second school-building referendum in as many years doesn't solve the problem of school overcrowding, officials said Monday.

They'll meet tonight to discuss options in the wake of a referendum last month that demolished plans to build a new $31 million high school off Route 34. Voters nixed a similar but more extensive plan in 2000.

The options include building an extension to the existing Derby High School on Nutmeg Avenue and presenting a third referendum on a school building project, members of the 2000-01 School Building Committee said.

Board of Education President James Gildea said he hopes the committee endorses a third referendum. When the inevitable third referendum comes around, I'm sure we'll be successful, he said.

Others are not as optimistic. Perhaps a grade six through 12 school would pass, said Michael Kelleher, D-3, president of the School Building Committee and of the Board of Aldermen.

About four years ago, an architectural firm drew up plans for a $28 million extension of the current high school that would add space and accommodate an additional grade level.

The high school now houses grades seven through 12.

Since voters have rejected a new school, perhaps they might now adopt the plan to extend the high school, said Kelleher.

Tonight's meeting will be the committee's last. City regulations require it to disband since its proposal was voted down.

Months after the defeat of the first referendum in June 2000, the Board of Aldermen appointed the committee to draw up a plan. The committee opted for a second referendum, proposing a new Derby High School.

The state would reimburse 70 percent of the project's cost. That offer is good until June 2002, said Kelleher. But any newly appointed school building committee would have to act quickly to take advantage of the offer, he said.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 35 Fifth St.

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