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Board of Finance Questions School Officials on Wisdom of K-6 Plan

By Jarret Liotta

The Board of Finance (BOF) tonight drilled school officials on the wisdom of going to a K-6 plan.

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The Board of Finance tonight hears from Board of Education members. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The Board of Education (BOE) appeared seeking an appropriation of up to $4 million for 14 portable classrooms at the five elementary schools.

“It’s not all about the money,” said BOF member Michael Rea, with a two-year cost estimated in the neighborhood of $2.3 million. “It’s about how you’re going to deliver on this promise.”

“If we’re not convinced with that … we have to come up with another plan,” he said.

Superintendent of Schools Colleen Palmer, who has argued that it is the best educational option, was asked directly if there was a contingency plan should the BOF not approve money for the portables.

In particular she was asked about what implementing the alternative plan for a townwide middle school would involve.

“They’re both viable options,” she said, but restated at length why she felt K-6 was the better plan.

“I do not have square footage at the elementaries,” she said, however. “I cannot deliver K to 6 without the modules.”

“It seems like you should reconsider this now,” said BOF member Lee Caney. “Maybe it’s time to step back.”

BOF Chairman Brian Stern, who attended Monday night’s BOE meeting in which the Coleytown Middle School Task Force shared its ideas for bringing the school back online, chastised school officials for its neglect of the building even since it was closed in the fall.

“We have over $400,000 in the school budget for maintenance,” he said. “Go maintain.”

“This is the management kind of observation I have,” he said, “that there’s stuff we should have done … Do the stuff.”

BOF members also got an earful from parents who shared differing opinions on the K-6 plan.

On Wednesday the BOF is due to vote on the appropriation.

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