Whether or not the Board of Education will receive $4.9 million for "" will now be decided by voters come November, as town directors unanimously approved the school board's request for the item to be placed on a referendum Tuesday.
The vote came at the end of a lengthy Board of Directors meeting Tuesday, which saw numerous residents and members of the Board of Education speak out in favor of the school board's funding request.
"We cannot continue to kick the can down the road any further," Kelly Luxenberg, a Democratic member of the Board of Education, said during the public comment portion of the meeting. "Trust the people…and see if they want to invest that money back into our schools."
While Board of Education Chairman Chris Pattacini also addressed the directors in support of the funding, but noted that he was doing so as a taxpayer and parent within the community.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone every day with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
"These repairs were selected by the administration from a list of more than $20 million worth of critical repairs," Pattacini said. "They do represent a small portion of those items that we believe are ultra critical…not only do these repairs ensure that we protect our investment that the community has made, but they help ensure that schools remain in operation."
When the subject finally came before the directors for a vote, Democrat John Topping proposed reducing the request to $4.6 million by stripping $300,000 for parking lot repairs at Arthur H. Illing Middle School.
"I don't feel it was prudent to pay for something for 20 years that has a life expectancy of less," Topping said referring to the Illing parking lot repairs. "I think this is a number that the town can support, but more importantly that the town can afford."
But after further debate, town directors agreed to return the $300,000 in funding, but use it for $100,000 worth of compliance fees pertaining to the Americans with Disability Act and $200,000 worth of funding for studies for the School Modernization and Reinvestment Team Revisited (SMARTR), a separate committee made up of members of the Board of Education, Board of Directors and general public that has been appointed to identify long-term repairs and objectives for the school system.
The money 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. Earlier this year, the town directors also approved a request for .
"I was initially of the opinion that this referendum should not be on the ballot in November, because I wanted the library to have its day," said Mayor Leo V. Diana. "This is a decision that should be made by the residents of the town of Manchester, that's why we're going to give them that opportunity."
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Republican Susan Holmes was absent from the meeting and did not take part in the vote.