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Some Southeast Parents Don't See Need for New School Buildings

Mansfield officials are considering whether to build two new elementary schools, consolidating the three existing schools, sequentially over a multi-year period.

The Mansfield School Building Project debate has been going on for years.

Should the town build new schools? Renovate its existing buildings? Make repairs as necessary?

The past few years have witnessed a community divided due to personal feelings about the need for repairs vs. the need for new buildings.

At Southeast Elementary School Monday, parents who were willing to voice their opinion on the topic, said they were just fine with the schools as they stand today.

Chris Petersen, the father of a Southeast kindergarten student, told Mansfield-Storrs Patch that those who believe the town's only option is to build new schools, "ought to get their priorities straight."

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“I believe that we ought to work with what we have and I also believe that the tax-and-spend Democrats should think about the taxpayers as much as the children,” Petersen said.

“I believe that these schools are very serviceable. Yeah okay, they [the buildings] need some repairs, but let’s do the repairs at a substantial savings," he said, adding, “I think the students will be well-served with a remodeling project, rather than completely new buildings."

A father of two school-age children who requested anonymity because he is the husband of a school employee said, overall, he "kind of like(s) how it is now."

As the parent of a Southeast pre-schooler and first grader, the man said it wouldn't sit well with him if the project went to referendum and Southeast was not considered as a site for a new school.

"[Southeast] is a central hub," he said. "You have the ball fields right here, the soccer field's just down the street a little bit and it’s between UConn and Willimantic so it is central hub which is nice,” he said.

Toivo kask October 03, 2012 at 12:33 PM
The Town Coincil and the BOE are not looking clearly at the alternatives. I attended the first information meeting and it was presented as though this was a done deal. F the buildings are lacking modern resource centers and spaces, those could added to the sites with little disruption to the schoolchildren. And at substantially less cost! As an architect having done many jobs for the Los Angeles Unified School District, I know what can be done for far fewer dollars than this proposal. BTW, the architects' sketches are missing the required elevator in the two story part of the building! Lokalyokel
Gregory Washko October 03, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I have to agree with Chris Petersen....this is a partisan issue which the Mansfield Democrats are making every attempt to railroad through. In a time of great financial uncertainty in this Country, State and Town... this amounts to reckless fiscal policy while putting unnecessary burden on Mansfield taxpayers. I have two sons at Annie Vinton and I love the place and its small and familiar character (while completely understanding it needs some TLC). A consolidation of students and teachers in new buildings is unnecessary and would greatly damage that character. The cost savings projected will not be realized by any stretch of the imagination as spending and continued lack of fiscal restraint will go on as it always does with politically motivated agendas. Greg Washko
GregoryRobertSamuels October 03, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Something I wanted to bring up at the SE meeting, but we ran out of time (I spent my time questioning their housing/population data, which I believe is flawed) was the comment by Councilman Ryan. A resident asked why we are spending a million dollars on additional land at Goodwin when we have available land at Southeast. His response was that both Goodwin and Vinton were 'louder'. This comment calls into question the leadership of the Council, who were apparently 'bullied' into a position where spending an extra million dollars makes sense to them. We've trusted that the Town Cousil would represent all the residents of Mansfield and do what's best for the town as a whole and our tax dollars, not yield to whoever is 'loudest'. That's not leadership.
GregoryRobertSamuels October 03, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Mr. Kask- please come to the next Town Council meeting Tuesday, October 9, 2012 7:30 p.m. in the Audrey P. Beck Building, Council Chambers Room and voice your concerns. The Southeast community is trying to rally parents to be there and make our voices heard. Cheers!
GregoryRobertSamuels October 03, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Mr. Washko- please come to the next Town Council meeting Tuesday, October 9, 2012 7:30 p.m. in the Audrey P. Beck Building, Council Chambers Room and voice your concerns. The Southeast community is trying to rally parents to be there and make our voices heard. Cheers!
ric hossack October 04, 2012 at 08:09 AM
Exactly !!!! No leadership ! Remember this next November when the council comes up for re-election. All of this smoke and mirrors over one school/two schools is simply a way to deflect attention away from the elephant in the room, namely the MBOE budget. Inherently the taxpayers stand to take another one on the chin [and wallet] when the school board "needs" another $1,500,000 to keep the program going. Anyone with any sensibility understands that the MBOE budget is unsustainable. So what better way to deflect the attention than to get us all discussing a ridiculous building project with no defined costs [if you believe the numbers supplied to the public then I have a million dollar house to sell you]. As has recently been revealed, the projects own architect admitted in 2008 our schools were structurally sound. And while claiming to fix up our schools would carry a $90 million price tag, knew all along that it was much lower......and still continued to LIE to the taxpayers of Mansfield. Was the council [or just a few] complicit in this deception?
kevin October 04, 2012 at 03:46 PM
If this crazy plan happens we'll all think we live in million dollar homes when we get our tax bill.
GregoryRobertSamuels October 04, 2012 at 03:48 PM
I have yet to read a single comment that actually supports the proposed school building project...am I wrong? Are there Mansfield parents and tax payer out there that that support this plan?
ric hossack October 04, 2012 at 05:18 PM
You are correct, Greg, in the five meetings I attended not one parent said to go forward. The taxpayers of Mansfield will get the shaft. And for those claiming that the logical reason for building two perfectly good schools by tearing down two perfectly good schools is "for the children" are willing to pass this massive debt onto our children and grandchildren.
GregoryRobertSamuels October 04, 2012 at 05:25 PM
There is something else going on here...we don't need to buy land when we have land available. There is some hidden agenda that's pushing this.
ric hossack October 04, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Yes the hidden agenda is the town's desire to convert one of the elementary schools to a public safety complex, police and fire protection. Southeast has been deemed the target because of its location. The council has not had the guts to say this or to plan for renovating any building for this purpose. They have put it on hold until our town manager can rework the numbers, trying to limit the tax exposure by delaying the construction timeline. Why not work toward the goal of renewing our schools? Certainly a citizen based advisory group could accomplish this goal in a lot less time and money than anything proposed by town management or their high priced consultants !

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