In North Stonington, the Board of Education has approved a plan that would renovate the town’s three schools (see story on page A1). The total price tag is $50 million but it’s projected that the town would be responsible for no more than three-fifths of the cost, roughly $30 million, and perhaps as little as $28 million.
For the most part, the schools were built in the 1950s, making them 60 years old. As Superintendent of Schools Peter Nero pointed out, when they were built, students were using textbooks that said maybe one day man would land on the moon.
Despite the facilities, the Board of Education has moved forward, purchasing $118,000 worth of computers at a 42 percent discount. Still, it is likely there are a few people in town that believe it was nothing but a waste of $118,000.
For more than a decade the town has weighed multiple possibilities concerning the school system, spending tens of thousands of dollars performing studies that have gone nowhere. Many reports were disregarded, set aside or ignored, and the issue dropped.
Had the town acted on a project in 2008 at the beginning of the recession, the cost would have been at least $4 million less, according to the board’s architect, just because contractors would have bid anything to keep their employees working.
Many residents drive by the schools and wonder why the town has to spend $30 million, a lot of money, for something that looks good on the outside. That is understandable, but what they are missing is the school board’s explanation as to why it’s necessary. Part of the answer is that the town’s education system needs to step into the 21st century.
We applaud the school board for remembering that progress is advancing rapidly, requiring different equipment and approaches that must be constantly reevaluated.
Over the next month, the Board of Education will hold meetings to educate the public on why it is necessary to renovate the schools and invest $30 million in doing so.
Whether you are in favor of the project or not, residents should make it a point to attend a meeting to become better educated on the matter. The board, made up of elected officials chosen by the people of North Stonington, now has something to say. You owe it to yourself to at least listen.