Several Mansfield community members addressed the Mansfield Town council in regard to the plans to consolidate the three elementary schools.
The proposed merger is to help consolidate costs for the schools, as outlined in the 2017 report “Developing a Vision and Goals for Mansfield Public Schools’ Learning Spaces,” especially as Mansfield’s elementary-aged population has been in decline over the past two decades. The goals include creating more flexible spaces that promote collaboration and project-based learning.
The current schools are not environmentally sustainable and pose fiscal issues regarding their upkeep. The current plan is to construct a net zero energy school for the 566 students in the district.
The consolidation previously has been met with some backlash by residents attached to the ‘little schools,’ however, the new plan will help consolidate costs and energy expenditures, according to the proposal.
Resident Peter Millman expressed his support of combining the schools. He references the combined square footage of the schools and how it would decrease, reducing maintenance costs. The combined square footage is currently 111,180 square feet and the new school is proposed to be 83,000 square feet.
“A 25 percent savings in space, which means less cleaning, less heating, less cooling, less long-term maintenance on the inside and the outside of the building,” Millman said. “That is a tremendous amount of savings.”
Annie Perkins, an 8th grade language arts teacher at Mansfield Middle School, encouraged the committee to “take the road less traveled and be the first net zero school in the state of Connecticut.”
“It’s our generation that needs to step up with all the energy and courage to solve the problem of climate change,” Perkins said. “That means we cannot afford to continue the status quo of powering our schools with fossil fuels.”
Republican town council members Elizabeth Wassmundt and David Freudmann raised concerns about what would happen to the old schools after the transition.
“One of my concerns is what will we do with the two sites that will not be used as schools, Vinton and Goodwin,” he said. “I believe that you will find a way to repurpose it and we will still have to make these repairs.”
Freudmann expressed concern about the costs the town would incur if they were to keep and repurpose the schools, pointing out that they need 20 million dollars worth of repairs.
He also brought up the possibility of re-zoning and selling the properties and states.
The idea of regionalization in Connecticut is becoming more common. Governor Ned Lamont has proposed Bill No. 874 outlining a plan for the future of school regionalization in Connecticut.
Senate Bill no. 457 has recently been proposed to the CT General Assembly. This bill proposes the regionalization of schools with populations fewer than 2,000 students. Senate Bill no. 454, proposed by Senator Martin Looney, has also been submitted. This bill would force districts with populations smaller than 40,000 to consolidate with another district.
The School Building Committee will be hosting two rounds of community events starting April 25th to discuss how they came to their decision for the new school and where it will be sited.
Alyssa Pagan is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.