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Board of Education Asks for $4.9 Million for School Repairs

The money would be used for "critical repairs" to existing school buildings, according to school board members.

The Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution Monday to ask the Board of Directors to place a $4.9 million item on the ballot of a November referendum seeking what board members called "critical repairs" to the district's most needy schools. 

The money includes funds to replace the roofs at Bowers, Waddell and Verplanck elementary schools, electrical repairs at Manchester High School, parking lot repairs at Arthur H. Illing Middle School and a number of other repairs. 

Interim Superintendent Richard Kisiel said the repairs only consisted of items identified as "necessary to preserve the buildings." 

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"We've identified them as high priority items," he said. 

Kisiel noted that the repairs only amounted to about a quarter of those recommend by the district's new facility manager back in January, when he told the Board of Education that Manchester public schools were in "" and would require more than $20 million worth of repairs. 

A separate committee, the School Modernization and Reinvestment Team Revisited (SMARTR), made up of members of the Board of Education, Board of Directors and general public, has been appointed to identify long-term repairs and objectives for the school system. Several board members noted that the November referendum would not interfere with the work of the SMARTR committee. 

"This is only a small portion of it," said Neal Leon, a Democratic member of the school board who co-chairs the building and sites committee that recommended the changes. "They're large ticket items. They're far from what the board needs, but it's a start."

Throughout the debate on the issue, numerous school board members noted that, even if the Board of Directors approve its request, voters would still have the ultimate say on the expenditure in a referendum on Election Day come November. 

"Ultimately, the public decides here," Leon said. "This is only a small step in the right direction, in my opinion, but I think it's worthy of going to the public to let them decide if they want to make this investment in our schools." 

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