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POLL: Do You Support the Board of Education's $4.9 Million Referendum?

Here's your chance to tell us how you feel about the Board of Education's $4.9 million referendum request?

Earlier this week, the Board of Directors the Board of Education's request that a $4.9 million referendum for school repairs be placed on the ballot on Election Day in November. 

The money, which Board of Education Chairman Chris Pattacini said is only for "critical school repairs," includes funds to replace the roofs at Bowers, Waddell and Verplanck elementary schools, electrical repairs at Manchester High School, and a number of other repairs. Click here to see a detail list of the items. 

Earlier this year, the town directors also approved a request for a $12.5 million referendum to expand the Mary Cheney Library. The two items will appear as separate entries on the ballot on Election Day, Nov. 6. 

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But we want to know how you feel about the Board of Education's request now? Do you support it or don't you? And why? 

Vote in our poll below and then tell us your opinion in the comments!

Mike Pohl August 19, 2012 at 02:55 PM
I support the referendum, however it could have been better. The 4.9M includes an addition to Illing Middle School to replace the 3 portable classrooms that should have been replaced a long time ago. Iling Middle School, like most other middle schools is split into academic teams. with one marh, two landguage arts, one science and one social studies teacher and on some teams a special education teacher. The addition should have been a 5 classroom addition with a special education pull out room so an entire academic team could have been assigned to that space.
Rudy Kissmann August 19, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Yes I support the referendum, it was agood compromise in helping to get the emergency repairs done. It should be a lesson to both Boards (BOE and BOD) not to let this situation happen and with on going good planning it won't. Rudy Kissmann BOD
Tony M August 19, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Having taught at the former Bennet Jr. High for 33 years, I witnessed several renovations it was useless. Was like throwing good money after bad. I had made suggestion many time to completely level the buildings and build one complete complex that was new and well up to the standards of the then day. I had the opportunity to visit and tour the new 6th grade Academy, it is beautiful. The smartest thing is to keep up the necessary repairs an renovations of all the Manchester schools. That way it will cost less in the long run. Please go for it voters. Your kids deserve good school environments.
Bob Hetzel August 19, 2012 at 09:46 PM
This is just a guess, but wouldn't a sheet metal roof over a steel frame, with a 12/12 pitch and exterior drains, last longer than a flat blacktop roof with interior drains, which is subject to snow loads, solar deterioration and plugged drains? I am not an engineer, but maybe an engineer would like to give an opinion. Such pitched roof might also shelter all the roof-top appliances, add some insulating effect and even support solar collectors.
Miriam Byroade August 20, 2012 at 01:19 AM
the great thing about this that I heard from Lisa O'Neil (a member of the Board of Directors) is that if this passes, the State of CT will reimburse Manchester for 65% of the cost of doing this work on our schools.
Nutmegger August 20, 2012 at 11:28 AM
I just can't stop thinking of Nathan Hale. I look at the treatment Highland Park, for example, has received over the years while Nathan Hale was allowed to slide into complete chaos, and it really enrages me. I am as left as it gets when it comes to education issues, but I don't want to keep giving money to the Board of Ed when they so clearly cater to their favorites. So if I vote against this referendum, which I very well might, it won't be because I oppose these particular requests (I don't), but because I oppose the continued neglect over the years when it comes to the families and students most in need.
James Bond August 20, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Bob, how dare you be reasonable!!
James Bond August 20, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Consider the neighborhoods of both schools. Any questions? $$$$$$ and connections
Mike Pohl August 21, 2012 at 03:29 AM
@Nutmegger and James Bond.... When I was a member of the Board of Education, I served as Co-Chair of the Buildings and Sites Committee. I took my job seriously and visited all of the schools in Manchester. When I walked into the Ferguson Road side of the school and saw three dehumidifiers running and smelled the overwhelming cellar musty smell, I could not believe that this area housed young Head Start students on a daily basis. I futhter investigated and determined that the walls in the school library had to be washed with some type of antifungal - antimilldew solution so that the books and walls did not mildew or grow fungus. I brought it up at the Buildings and Sites Committee and we recommended that Highland Park for serious health reasons, be renovated immediately. Verplanck School was also part of the recommendation to the Board of DIrectors but the Board of Directors decided that they wanted to do one school at a time and Verplanck did not have the problems that Highland Park did and obviously Highland Park was the top priority, There is no smoking gun here.
tina bourke August 21, 2012 at 12:00 PM
@Nutmegger, As I understand it, Nathan Hale's fate is still pending? I was also disappointed in the decision to close it but have come to accept whatever way it goes. I still don't understand how we could close Nathan Hale for lack of funds to repair, however, then afterword consider 12.5 million dollar extension of the library? I was trying to research how many towns like Manchester have two libraries already as well as with all the new technology i.e., kindle etc to read a book a your fingertips without even going out of your home. I thought maybe instead of a library why not a community center if we were going to be that foolish to begin with regarding 12.5 MILLION DOLLARS we don't have! I too lean left, however I was disappointed in Mayor Leo Diana for initially being apprehensive to vote for these repairs on the ballot and I was disappointed in Cassano for not being in favor of raising the minimum wage which would of only helped the demographic in the area where the school is closing? As far as the repairs. I don't think it is a good idea to punish the kids for anything that happened before. It is a no brainer to vote yes on the repairs as it is badly needed, unlike an extension of the library, and we will 65% reimburstment by the state according to an earlier post. Just saying.
Brian Hurlburt August 21, 2012 at 02:16 PM
As I understand it, the Nathan Hale schools fate is a result of the need to address the racial imbalance in our elementary schools. If I am correct, then many of the comments that Highland Park school is getting special treatment need to be quelled, and the comments need to be directed to the State of Connecticut. See the following link: http://boe.townofmanchester.org/files/NH_Relocation_3_12_12.pdf Regarding the $4.9 million referendum, why wouldn't we vote in favor? And if 65% of that will be reimbursed by the state, why isn't that being advertised by the BOE, BOD, and the author of every article published? As a side note, there was discussion that the money for MHS would be used for electrical upgrades, however this is not identified on the punch list. There is certainly quite a bit more work that needs to be done at MHS. It's a shame the voters in town couldn't understand the need for a new high school several years ago....... Vote in favor of our kids, town. and our schools!
Brian Hurlburt August 21, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I don't believe that is the case, James. See the following: http://boe.townofmanchester.org/files/NH_Relocation_3_12_12.pdf
M. Troy August 21, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Doesn't Manchester have maint. Thats the problem . Through the years we have not maintained the schools so now we have to com up with the big money. And I have not heard areal response to Nathan Hale.
Brian Hurlburt August 21, 2012 at 03:35 PM
As I understand, the Nathan Hale school's fate is the result of a racial imbalance as defined by the outcome of the Sheff v. O'Neill case.
tina bourke August 21, 2012 at 06:21 PM
^Brian, Nathan Hale was reportedly closed due to the extent of its poor condition and disrepair. I have not read anything regarding it closing due to racial imbalance. Although racial imbalance may have been brought up for different needed attention as a whole in Manchester, it wasn't the stated reason for Nathan hale closing as reported?
Brian Hurlburt August 21, 2012 at 06:46 PM
There is no doubt that Nathan Hale school is in dire need of many repairs; however, there are several documents I have read that refer to correcting the racial imbalance as a driver in closing Nathan Hale (or maybe a consequence of closing Nathan Hale). If you recall a few years ago, the racial imbalance was affected for one year when Bennet was being renovated, and many of the 6th graders were sent to Buckley. That was short lived. Please refer to the BOE website for several documents that allude to the imbalance correction.
tina bourke August 21, 2012 at 07:26 PM
^Brian, several articles I have read stated Nathan Hale was closed due to its poor condition and needed repairs. Here is the one in the Hartford Courant dated January 19, 2012 as follows: Nathan Hale School In Manchester Will Be Closed In Fall Aged Heating System Prompts School Board Decision Follow Your Town News On The Courant's Manchester Facebook Page January 19, 2012|By JESSE LEAVENWORTH, leavenworth@courant.com, The Hartford Courant MANCHESTER — — The board of education has agreed that Nathan Hale School will be closed in the fall while discussions continue about the long-term future of the school. The informal agreement was driven by the Spruce Street school's deterioriating condition, particularly its aged boilers and steam pipes, Interim Superintendent Richard Kisiel said Thursday. Fixing the heating system and other high priority problems will cost more than $1 million, according to the school district's facilities manager. If the system fails, the school district would face even higher repair bills.
tina bourke August 21, 2012 at 07:31 PM
^Having re-read the article, one million looks like a very small price to pay for keeping it open compared to the multiple millions we may be on the hook for two separate projects and Nathan Hale, not even being considered. And, they made that assessment from the facilities manager according to that article. Who is the facilities manager?????!!! And couldn't we get an outside assessment? It is free for an assessment! hum.
Brian Hurlburt August 21, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Hi Tina, Please go to the BOE website and read the reports there. Sure, the Courant article touched on the repairs, and no one is disagreeing the needed repairs. However, as with most articles today, the Courant article does not touch on the other needs. Please take the time to review the BOE reports for a complete picture. Enjoy!
tina bourke August 21, 2012 at 10:31 PM
@Brian, I already briefed through it and there are bullets pertaining to racial balance and redistricting, however, I did not find a specific definition why Nathan Hale was closing? If you want to post the specific definition on their website here, by all means go ahead but I didn't find it. If it was for racial balancing, then it further doesn't make sense to close an entire school? For example, racial balancing shouldn't just include the highest cluster of minorities being shuffled out, and no one shuffled in? Its okay Brian, there are others on here so someone can provide it.....
Brian Hurlburt August 22, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Tina, I found a BOE presentation where I believe the redistricting plan began: http://boe.townofmanchester.org/files/Elementary_School_Redistricting_Scenario.pdf At this time there was no mention of closing Nathan Hale. However, you can find many of the same words on the presentations going forward to today; and more recently the closing of Nathan Hale became a way to save money and consolidate resources in addition to correcting the racial imbalance. I invite others, perhaps someone from the BOE, to add more to this conversation, and un-cloud the issues.
tina bourke August 22, 2012 at 12:24 PM
^Brian, look at the article from January 10th on Patch. It states Nathan Hale was closed due to the failing boiler system. This is important because in this article the costs is different by a couple of million from the Hartford Courant's and to me the wording is also tricky? For example it states it would cost a few million but somehow the way it reads, 20 million total but the 20 million is the total price for a complete renovation. The article states that Nathan Hale will RE-OPEN once the REPAIRS ARE COMPLETED. I remember the town people going to the board meetings in favor of keeping it open. So, having re-read that article and knowing many want to keep it, it leads me to question why a 12.5 million dollar project for the library and 4.5 million dollars for other schools are on the table. Sorry Patch, this is a big decision for many and a lot of money on the table for everyone. Are they going to wait until we are on the hook for all that money and then decide to open it costing us all so much more because of the commitment to the library if it passes and the other repairs? The new transparency goals of the new administration would be helpful at this time to all of us as many are disappointed about Nathan Hale closing....How does one get this on the agenda to discuss it at a meeting?
Brian Hurlburt August 22, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Hi Tina, If you look at the Facilities Critical Assessment punch list, the estimated total cost for needed repairs at all schools is $23,038,000. The cost to renovate just Nathan Hale is $2,465,500, which includes $380,000 for the boiler replacement, $200,000 for replacing the heating pipe, and $100,000 to replace the oil tank. None of these repairs are a part of the $4.9 million referendum, which would indicate that Nathan Hale will not reopen in the foreseeable future. All of that said, the actual budget needed is the $23 million to repair our schools. You could argue that this Facilities Critical Assessment list does not contain other work that needs to be done, so perhaps the $23 million is a low estimate. I know my daughter believes the bathrooms at MHS should be a top priority. This is not only about repairing Nathan Hale. It is also about adhering to Title 1, and correcting the racial imbalance that the State of CT has criticized the town for. My open question to the BOE and BOD is: when will you ask the taxpayers for the $23 million? Or, will we go through this same painful process again next year? Why will Nathan Hale close? What is the real reason for re-redistricting? Please be forthright now on all of the issues.
tina bourke August 22, 2012 at 04:02 PM
^Thanks Brian, And I would add that it will be extremely important information to know for sure if we will get reimbursted from the state 65% of the 4.5 million!!! I will say, I have so much more respect for everyone trying to figure this all for our town and for those who are currently working on it. THANK YOU! I come to realize your jobs are not that easy. It will be a decision of split preference priorities, not necessarily real priorities in my opinion? If the library gets a 12.5 million dollar extension, that doesn't mean we won't have to re-visit the total costs of the school repairs at a later date according to your post. So to sum it it up, even if they get the 4.5 million requested in November, that is just the beginning and will leave a 15.5 million dollar balance for the total sum of all the repairs needed for the schools. If we Leave a 15.5 million dollar balance for all the schools to get the necessary repairs and with the new stated goals for the board not to have past problems repeat themselves, then it would make sense, we will be needing to address the 15.5 million dollar balance in our town schools. How and when this will be addressed will be important to know for sure! Especially since by then we will be so far tapped out for money if both get voted in but backed up against the wall for the necessary repairs. Yikes. Makes my vote decision easier now to decide!!!!!!

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