Germantown school board maps out construction plans

GERMANTOWN—“Back to school” for the Board of Education here means doubling up on meetings, starting in September.

After discussion at their July 8 meeting, board members and Superintendent Susan Brown agreed that the most transparent way to handle the new capital project was for the board to add a special meeting to its monthly schedule. The additional session will be dedicated to overseeing the school’s renovations and new construction.

When board member Ralph DelPozzo suggested that the whole board might also act as the Facilities Committee, board member Donald Coons recalled that for the school’s previous capital project, saying, “the board was the committee. We met in addition to our regular meeting just to discuss the project.” The consensus was to call the second meeting a special one, which would allow the board to take action, if necessary.

“This should feel like a committee meeting, with a big round table,” said architect David Sammel, who advised the board to “be a special board meeting. Then if time is of the essence, the board could choose to take action.”

“Are we taking a risk at getting hung up on minutiae, what color a wall is?” asked Ms. Brown.

Mr. Sammel that was not the case, and gave an example: “We’ll give you four options of color palettes, you choose one. You’re really oversight and policy.”

The regular board meeting continues on the second Wednesday of the month. The special meeting is the fourth Wednesday. Both meetings start at 6:30 p.m.

In making a brief “next steps” report, Mr. Sammel noted that by starting the project with its $500,000 in reserve funds, the board was “buying almost a whole year of not bonding, not paying interest.”

The project schedule is currently divided into five broad phases: planning (July to December 2015), Construction Documents (November 2015 to May 2016), State Education Department review (June to November 2016) bidding (November 2016 to January 2017) and construction (February 2017 to summer 2018).

When Ms. Brown said that she would like community input, such as from the Drama Club, during the design phase, Mr. Sammel agreed. “Let the kids be involved with the elementary science lab, and the playground design,” he added. “Make it part of the curriculum.”

In other business:

  • By roll call vote, the board passed a formal resolution setting in motion the new capital project, as approved by district voters, at a maximum estimated cost of $11,382,056 and authorizing the issuance of $10,882,056 Serial Bonds (after use of the $500,000 reserve fund). All board members voted in favor except Jeremy Smith, who voted No.

“I thought I should be consistent with my opposition to this project from the start,” he said Tuesday. “But now I will give every support to the project that I can, as it goes through”

  • Elected Tammi Kellenbenz president of the board and Faydra Geraghty vice president. Clerk Linda Anderson swore in the officers and new board members Andrea Provan and Teresa Repko
  • Set a special meeting for Wednesday, July 29 at 6:30 p.m. at which the board anticipates voting on a ceiling project; and set a board retreat for Monday, August 10.

The next regular board meeting is Wednesday, August 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the school, 123 Main Street.

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