Entire Town Goes On Sale For $1.4 Million

March 2, 2012 by staff 

Entire Town Goes On Sale For $1.4 Million, The Town Council conceded feeling backed into a corner Tuesday night when it was asked to provide $1.4 million to finance the cost of preparing West Side and Cutler middle schools to absorb students from Fitch Middle School, which is scheduled to be closed at the end of this school year.

Closing one school, Superintendent of Schools Paul Kadri has said, could save the town as much as $2.7 million per year.

Kadri and several school board members were at the council’s committee of the whole meeting to ask for the supplemental budget appropriation to make some technological preparations, purchase portable classrooms and reconfigure spaces at the two schools. Most of the money would go toward the portable classrooms, and would be eligible for reimbursement by the state department of education, probably at more than 50 percent.

The council spent more than 90 minutes questioning, challenging, criticizing and speculating about what would happen if the request were denied, or if the money were not available. Town Manager Mark Oefinger said he had never had such a large request so late in the fiscal year.

“Who’s running the show over there,” Councilor Mick O’Beirne said. “What gives? Why haven’t we seen a formal request? I’ll tell you right up front, I can’t support this.”

O’Beirne said Tuesday was the first time he had heard about an email from the school board chairman to the mayor requesting $1.4 million. Editor’s note: This clarifies an earlier version of this article.

Kadri had identified the need for the $1.4 million more than a month ago, even as he declared the district could operate on a zero increase budget in the coming year. School officials have been discussing the remodeling plan even longer.

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