Council workshop on SHS renovation Thursday

By Melvin Mason on February 17, 2016

The Town Council will have a review of the proposed Stratford High School renovation project during a special meeting Thursday that is intended to be a workshop.

Thursday’s meeting, set for 7 p.m. at Stratford High, will include a history of the project, a presentation from Superintendent Janet Robinson on how it fits in with the district’s long range planning and a presentation of the renovation design by Antinozzi Associates.

The workshop will also include a timeline of the renovation, the expected educational outcomes of the project, health and safety precautions, a discussion on the delivery of education, and the renovation’s cost and how it will affect the town’s budget.

A public comment period will follow the presentations and questions from Town Council members.

The SHS Renovation Subcommittee has worked for years on developing a plan to fix SHS. The previous Town Council voted on Dec. 7 to approve an amended cost estimate of $125.9 million for the SHS renovation. Under current state reimbursement rules, the town would be responsible for $52.6 million. Council Chairwoman Beth Daponte has said she and the council members have questions to ask before voting on an amending appropriation and bonding ordinances for the SHS renovation project. In particular, Daponte said, she wants paperwork that shows the town would be guaranteed the 60% reimbursement rate that has been promised to Stratford.

Several supporters of the renovation plan, including Board of Education Chairman James Feehan, have asked the council to support the plan, as SHS is in need of major renovations and he is worried about missing out on a generous reimbursement. Feehan has also said recently that he feels Daponte is trying to delay the SHS renovation, noting that Daponte has asked the SHS Renovation Subcommittee to examine the possibility of a single high school for Stratford.

The Town Council is also expected to vote on amendments to the town’s 2015-16 fiscal year budget to resolve a $5.4 million budget gap.