Coleytown Middle School re-opening delayed until October
WESTPORT — Coleytown Middle School won’t re-open on time.
“Last week, I indicated that there would be a delay in the opening of Coleytown Middle School,” CMS Building Committe Chair Don O’Day said at a Board of Education meeting on Monday. “As of today, I am now certain there will be a delay.”
The school has been closed since 2018 because of mold problems. Last summer, the Representative Town Meeting approved a $32 million plan to clean the mold and upgrade some systems and re-open the building by Sept. 1.
“We’re looking at an opening date that has an October handle,” O’Day said Monday, adding he doesn’t believe the delay will be for multiple months. Exterior work could continue into December.
O’Day said his team has received a preliminary schedule of the project from Newfield Construction and are currently going through it line-by-line.
The current schedule will be presented at the school board’s next meeting, O’Day said.
O’Day said while the delay is in large part due to the coronavirus pandemic, there have been other structural challenges found when construction crews opened the building’s walls, he said.
“A lot has happened and it has extended it a bit,” O’Day said. “We’re working as quickly as we can to address each and every one of these challenges as they present themselves.”
In other business, the school board reviewed $550,000 in savings expected from the district’s closure. Board members asked about $241,000 allotted to pay Staples High School’s athletic coaches for the spring.
Interim Superintendent David Abbey said there are 50 coaches who have already begun to work with students virtually including coaching on an individual and group basis.
“The Connecticut Scholastic Athletic Coaches Association has not canceled spring sports,” he said. “If there is a spring season, it will be held in the month of June.”
Abbey said he recommended the school board to pay the coaches a full stipend. If the BOE decided against making the payments, it would require negotiations with the Westport Educators Association union, he said.
BOE Vice Chair Jeannie Smith said she felt strongly the board should support the coaches.
“There’s so much we have to consider in terms of the social emotional wellness of our students and how the coaches are part of that wellness in their life,” Smith said. “I just value these people who have invested in our students for multiple years and they’re the experts in their sports and I don’t want to risk losing them.”
BOE Chair Candice Savin said that while she had an interest in supporting the coaches and the continuity of the sports programs moving forward, “at the same time, I’m concerned about bandwidth on some level to start a union negotiation with everything else that’s going on.”
The school board will next meet on May 4.