Saying they could not afford the roughly $154,000 annually it would cost just for basic maintenance of the now closed Nathan Hale Elementary School, the Board of Education voted Monday to turn control of the building over to the town.
"The board simply does not have that funding in its budget," said Interim Superintendent Richard Kisiel.
Kisiel previously told the school board that the district had been paying minimal heating, utilities and custodial costs associated with the school, which amounted to about $154,000 annually. but that up until several weeks ago it still had supplies and equipment in the building. Kisiel said the district now has "no use for the building," while the town has been using the gym and the cafeteria for recreation activities.
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"We're left with this issue of who pays?" Kisiel said, noting that he approached General Manager Scott Shanley with the idea of the town paying the costs associated with the building to the school board while the board maintained control of it, but Kisiel said that Shanley indicated that he did not believe the Manchester Board of Directors would accept the idea.
"We should simply return the building back to the town so that it can maintain the building," Kisiel said.
The vote was unanimous, with many members of the school board stating they believed the move was in the best interests of the town's public education system.
"I think this board is in the business of operating schools, and Nathan Hale is no longer a school," said Sarah Walton, a Democratic member of the school board. "I don't think it's passing the buck."
The school board voted in August of 2012 to formally close the Spruce Street elementary school, since it did not have the millions estimated to repair and maintain the building's aging systems.
There have been preliminary discussions in town about the possibility of establishing a charter school, with Nathan Hale being suggested as a possible location. In order for that to materialize, the town would have to cede control of the building back to the Board of Education.
The building will be formally turned over to the town on March 1, 2013.