Wednesday, March 28, 2012
The economy may seem to be improving, but it’s still not a great time to ask voters to approve building a new school. Even so, Derby residents will be deciding whether to say ‘yes’ to a more than $66 million school bond next week.
Derby school bond supporters say many of the needs being addressed by the bond issue can be found right here in the 6th grade center.
Wanting quality schools is one thing; selling it to the voters can be another. School supporters in Derby say it’s the right time for a $66.64 million bond issue there.
Claudia Peebler of the Vote Yes Committee says, “It will resolve a lot of the issues that the committee found to be the most pressing."
She says all schools would get some improvements. The committee says 10 schools need roofs replaced. But much of the focus will be on adding a new Derby middle school and renovating the existing middle school. That would allow the district to tear down the current sixth grade center, including five portable classrooms. The 500 students there would be in the middle schools. Principal Jeff Smith says portables have security issues and subject students to the elements when passing.
"The average student at the 6th grade center gets wet four times a day on a rainy day," says Principal Smith.
There’s also the issue of the central kitchen. It was designed to prepare 2,000 meals daily. Now it’s preparing 6,000 daily meals.
Principal Smith says, "This central kitchen would be demolished and rebuilt just to the west of this facility."
Supporters insist timing is right, because interest rates are low. The state would pay 21% of the project, and property taxes will still be lower than most neighboring districts.
Larry Gould of the Vote Yes Committee says, "Right now we're addressing our real needs and I think the public recognizes that."
During severe weather, only 300 of the 500 students can shelter in the tornado shelter under the bleachers. The other students shelter elsewhere in the building. But if the bond issue passes any of the schools getting new construction, included in that would be a new tornado shelter. That vote is Tuesday April 3rd.