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District seeks levy to improve safety, technology and building

Zoe Greszler • Oct 10, 2018 at 5:00 PM

NEW LONDON — The New London Schools will ask the community to approve a much-needed levy that would help the district improve it’s technology, safety and general structure. 

In April, the school board approved adding a 2.9-mill, five-year permanent improvement levy to the November ballot. 

A permanent improvement (P.I.) levy is for supplying funds for permanent improvement to the district, such as text books, bus replacement and building repairs, renovating, equipping, remodeling and furnishing district buildings.

This tax in particular would go to the district to assist with roof, roadway and parking lot repair or replacement, bus replacement, improvements to the school’s safety and security and to improve technology. If passed, it would cost the owner of a $75,000 home about $6.34 per month, generating about $319,000 for the district annually. 

“We have one K12 building that services the students in our district,” Superintendent Brad Romano said.

“It opened in 2001, and its construction began in 1999, so we’re nearing that 20-year age mark. With that there are some repair and updates that need to be made and we want to make sure that we’ll be able to do that without hindering the educational program (that we offer).”

Romano said the board wants to “maintain the building and make sure it looks as good as it did 20 years ago,” which means getting a new roof and setting up a bus replacement plan so the district can avoid getting in a pickle should one of the older buses fail. 

“We want to fix the low-slope flat roof and resurface, or in some cases, replace the main roadway in and the parking lot,” Romano said. “We obviously need some bus purchases and as all schools throughout the state have, we’ve all experienced budget cuts. Our buses are getting up in age, so we want to replace the buses and get a replacement process going.”

Arguably the most important use of the funds would go toward the students’ safety, something Romano said has become of increasing importance in recent years as threats to students and school become more rampant. 

“We want to make sure we’re offering the safest and most secure place for our students that we can provide,” he said, adding the district has slowly been integrating various safety features, including security cameras and altering the “flow” of visitors to the building.

Romano said these safety measures include upgrades to the classroom doors, allowing teachers to provide “shelter in a very secure environment” should a threat occur.

“We’ve worked a lot with our D.A.R.E. officer (Mitchell Cawrse) for a plan on key areas that need to be upgraded and changes that need to be made,” he added.

Finally, the tax will help the school upgrade its technology and technology infrastructure. Romano said the school, having been built in the late 90s was made for a hard-wired network. In an increasingly wireless world, some changes to the infrastructure have been made along the way, however, he said they lifespan for those changes is typically about five to seven years, which will have passed by the end of the beginning of the levy-generated payments, should the tax pass in November.  

“We also want to make sure that our devices used by students and staff work properly with today’s technology, that they connect and do what we need them to do,” the superintendent said.

“We want to be able to do all of this without drawing away from our educational programming, so we’re asking for the permanent improvement levy. What should be clear is we’re not trying to increase salaries or pay our bills. We’re trying to maintain and upgrade the building and create a better environment for our students.”

If the levy passes, the first collection would take place in January, with the district receiving its first collection until June 2019. Romano said though it wouldn’t see a full collection until June 2020 since the tax payment is broken up.

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