A referendum to replace Mansfield’s three current elementary schools with one new school will be voted on in the Nov. 5 election.
“One New School: Yes!”, a political action committee made up of Mansfield residents that supports the initiative, argues that replacing the schools will “promote collaboration and problem-solving and create essential skills for future kids.”
The Mansfield school board has concluded that the “consolidation of Mansfield’s elementary schools into one new, energy-efficient building is the best and most fiscally responsible way to move Mansfield’s old school system into the modern world,” according to the committee’s website.
It would end up costing Mansfield about $20 million to repair the schools, according to the committee’s website, while building a new school would cost the town about $22 million, with the state of Connecticut contributing around $27 million.
Ronald Schurin, a University of Connecticut political science professor and Mansfield Town Councilman, is a Democrat who supports the initiative, and says Mansfield wants to create a nice environment for kids to learn in.
“We want to create a safe and healthy education atmosphere in order for the kids to succeed and have better learning experiences,” Schurin said.
Mansfield resident Elizabeth Verge, a local Republican and Board of Education candidate who is against the initiative, said that the town should not do anything with the three original schools and keep what they have.
“Either we abandon three buildings while still paying for upkeep, or we repair,” Verge said.
Verge said that Mansfield would have to pay for the school, barring any setbacks.
“Through the ‘One New School’ initiative, we will be building a new $50 million school, with hopes the state doesn’t back down on their end, otherwise the town will be solely responsible for the total cost,” Verge said.
She also said that having three small community schools is better than just one.
“Smaller community schools are safer and more secure,” Verge said. “Mother rabbits do not keep their young in one nest, in fact, a mother rabbit will spread her clutch of babies between three to four different nest sights in case of a predator.”
Verge said that having a new energy efficient school makes no sense.
“These technologies, being so new still, cost more to fix or replace after their lifespan is over than they’re worth,” Verge said. “The conceptual design shows lack of concern for future roof repairs, fire emergencies or heating costs.”
The new school would be vastly superior to the older ones, according to Schurin.
“This new initiative would benefit students, the environment and Mansfield taxpayers,” Schurin said.
The new school would be the first school in Connecticut to be energy efficient, according to the committee’s website. It would have solar panels which would reduce energy use.
Schurin said that Mansfield residents support the replacement of the three existing schools.
“There has been support for building a new school to replace the three elementary schools,” Schurin said. “They like the idea of creating a more energy efficient school compared to the older schools.”
For more information, students can visit the committee’s website.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story reported that Schurin said he wanted to create a “safe and wealthy education atmosphere.” The story has been corrected to reflect his actual quote.
Anthony Zepperi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.