At Monday evening's meeting of the Westfield Board of Education, the Board unanimously approved placing a $13.6 million bond referendum on the ballot on Tuesday, Dec. 11 to fund district-wide roof repairs.
Both the Finance and Facilities Committees requested approval of the bond issuance for the full amount needed to replace and repair all district buildings to be done as soon as possible.
“The bond does allow us to keep moving forward,” said Board president Richard Mattessich.
Westfield High School's roof has been deemed the top priority and if the bond is passed, the work can be completed during the summer of 2013. The Board also hopes work can begin on two to three other roofs in the summer of 2013 and then complete the remaining roofs in summer 2014.
“This isn’t easy, but the facts are the facts,” said Board member Mitch Slater. “The roofs have to be fixed and it has to happen now. This time it’s for real, folks. We need to pass this.”
On Sept. 24 Westfield residents soundly defeated at $16.9 million bond referendum that would have funded both the roof repairs and a lighted turf field at WHS. Many residents told Patch they were voting against the referendum because the two projects were bundled together.
Following the referendum's defeat Westfield schools superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan said voters had spoken and the Board is listening. Mattessich agreed and said the Board would "find a way to take care of everything over time."
The Board has been criticized for not having enough money in its operating budget to pay for ongoing maintenance and repairs. But last night the Board said the operating budget was never meant to fund a project of this size.
If bond doesn't pass, the district will have to make cuts elsewhere to find the money to fund the repairs. This includes postponing facility improvements and STEM commitments as well as the elimination of about 50 positions. Cuts would also be made to other sports and academic programs.
“We’re on a really good track and it’d be a shame to lose that momentum,” said Facilities chair Jane Clancy.
"We need to be bold and make this step," agreed newly-appointed Board vice president Roseanne Kurstedt.