Coleytown remediation project in Westport still on track
WESTPORT — Despite schools being closed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Coleytown Middle School’s remediation project is still on schedule for now.
CMS Building Commitee Chairman Don O’Day provided the update during the Board if Educations virtual meeting on Thursday.
“The message that I wanted to put out is that, as of today, the schedule is still showing that we are going to open as of Sept. 1 for the fall semester at Coleytown Middle School,” O’Day said.
Currently no construction projections have been shut down in the state, but O’Day said the governor in New York has shut down all nonessential construction projects.
O’Day said the only potential problem is the glass supplier for the school’s windows in Pennslyvania
“Pennslyvania, probably more so than New York from a construction perspective, is really shut down,” he said, adding contingencies were being established.
While there has not yet been a major problem with collecting building materials, O’Day noted some staffing challenges with some workers being absent over the past three weeks. While the August deadline remains important, he said the health of the workers was a top priority.
“The health and safety of everyone working on Coleytown Middle School is our top priority,” O’Day said. “I’m not going to rush to get the job done with fewer people to meet a deadline that is less important now than the health and safety of everyone working on the site.”
In case the building does not open on time, Interim Superintendent David Abbey said contingencies were already being discussed. The portable classrooms set up at Bedford Middle School had been contracted for two years and could be used for additional space if needed.
“There’s all kinds of scenarios we can consider,” Abbey said. “At this point, we’ll have a backup scheduling plan and then we’re going forward with our hiring practices once the budget is settled as we would any year.”
In other business, the education board reacted to the Board of Finance’s $1,327,000 reduction to its proposed $123 million budget. The finance board suggested a $250,000 reduction in budgeted school repairs, and a $550,000 cut due to anticipated health care savings.
Reductions proposed by the district’s administration included $100,000 from staff turnover, $100,000 from the carryover account, $150,000 from anticipated electricity savings, and potentially $177,000 from personnel.
Considering the bulk of the budget proposal’s increase came from facilities and maintenance, some BOE members grew concerned about how additional staffing cuts could impact the schools. Members also considered having separate discussions for each part of the budget — facilities, the operating budget and health care costs.
“I think we should keep those three budgets distinct,” BOE member Vik Muktavaram said. “We should keep them simple, distinct, and have three separate conversations.”
The BOE will next meet on April 13, and can return to the finance board on April 15 to seek fund restorations.