Last week, a larger-than-usual number of Westfield residents went to the polls and defeated a $16.9 million bond referendum that would have funded new roofs on all district buildings as well as a lighted turf field at the high school.
Last night, the Board of Education held its first public meeting since last Monday’s vote, further acknowledging the message residents had sent loud and clear, yet also remaining focused on a project that is still viewed as a necessity.
“The majority of roofs are in need of repair,” said Board President Richard Mattessich. “We will find a way to do that.”
The Board unanimously voted to place a new bond referendum on the Dec. 11 ballot, following a recommendation made by the district business office. The bond will at least be sufficient enough to pay for the replacement of the roofs at the high school, which is viewed as the district building most in need of roof repair. A district official present at the meeting last night said the high school roof leaks in several spots.
The Board had to approve the measure last night in order to inform the county by next week and place the measure – at least temporarily – on the December ballot. Members will have to decide during the Board’s next meeting (Oct. 22) whether or not to keep it there. There is a $1,400 placeholder fee to keep the measure on the ballot in the interim.
Mattessich said that a bond would be the most practical way to fund such an extensive measure. The alternative – using funds from the district operating budget – would likely require extensive cuts to other district programs. Mattessich again expressed a desire to move forward with the project as soon as possible in order to benefit from lower interest rates and favorable bidding costs.
Business Administrator Dana Sullivan accepted requests from several Board members for specific information to be gathered for and on-hand at the next meeting, including the status of each roof’s useful life and what potential tax impacts would be on residents.
The Board also accepted the business office’s recommendation to table discussions on the lighted turf field until a later date, instead focusing efforts on the roof repair project.