Task force to as­sess the op­tion of re­turn­ing to Co­ley­town next fall

The Norwalk Hour - - TOWN NEWS - By So­phie Vaughan

WEST­PORT — While the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion moves for­ward with a plan to keep town’s sixth graders in the ele­men­tary schools next year, it has also staffed a task force to as­sess the vi­a­bil­ity of re­turn­ing to the cur­rently de­funct Co­ley­town Mid­dle School next fall.

“The rea­son for the CMS task force is that while we’ve looked at the long-term plans for CMS, there’ve been a num­ber of peo­ple say­ing it might be pos­si­ble to re­oc­cupy Co­ley for the next aca­demic year,” Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Chair Mark Mathias said.

Af­ter the BOE closed Co­ley­town in Septem­ber due to con­cerns about on­go­ing is­sues with mold, the board hired Mount Kisco based KG+D Ar­chi­tects to in­ves­ti­gate what it would take to re­me­di­ate the build­ing. In Novem­ber, KG+D pre­sented the BOE with so­lu­tions for Co­ley­town, with es­ti­mated costs rang­ing from $25 mil­lion to $70 mil­lion.

“KG+D’s was a longterm per­spec­tive. We did not ask them about whether there were some in­terim so­lu­tions that may get Co­ley­town back, even on a par­tial ba­sis. Not only had towns­peo­ple said there might be an­other op­tion, we also had pro­fes­sion­als who said there might be other op­tions,” Mathias said of the BOE’s ra­tio­nale for form­ing a CMS task force.

The task force has seven mem­bers ap­pointed by the BOE, all of whom are res­i­dents and many of whom cur­rently serve on the town’s Main­te­nance Study Com­mit­tee.

“Th­ese peo­ple are all en­gi­neers, ar­chi­tects, and peo­ple that know a lot about build­ings,” Mathias said, adding the task force will present to the BOE in Jan­uary on its find­ings about the pos­si­bil­ity of re­open­ing Co­ley­town in the fall.

On Wed­nes­day, the task force met for the first time and elected Vanessa Val­adares to chair the group. Val­adares works as a project en­gi­neer for the city of Norwalk, ac­cord­ing to her Linkedin pro­file.

At the same time, ele­men­tary school par­ents par­ents, no­tably from Long Lots Ele­men­tary School, have spo­ken out at BOE meet­ings with con­cerns the school will be over­crowded when the sixth graders re­main on the ele­men­tary school cam­puses later this year.

The BOE is pre­par­ing open bid­ding for a com­pany to add two to three por­ta­ble class­rooms to each ele­men­tary school, and all schools will meet fire safety ca­pac­i­ties for each build­ing and dis­trict max­i­mums for class sizes, Mathias said.

The Board of Ed­u­ca­tion will next meet on Jan. 14.

So­phie Vaughan / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

A rental in­dus­trial strength de­hu­mid­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem has been set up at Co­ley­town Mid­dle School to ad­dress the school’s on­go­ing is­sues with mold growth.

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