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The new first selectman, Peggy Lyons, has invited all residents to reach out to the Board of Selectmen for the future use of this school [Nov 21 story “Town Considers Options for Island School, Looking for Speedy Resolution”]. Here are my recommendations:
Considering the Our Lady of Mercy Preparatory Academy (OLMPA) board chair and newly elected Board of Finance member John Picard says their students are extremely happy at Island, enrollment has increased, and the building is providing numerous opportunities for the kids, including playgrounds and gym, I ask myself why should the town give up this school (it’s a one-year lease), when we may be able to upgrade it to a state-of-the-art elementary school and perhaps at a lot less than $58 million?
If we have a declining school population, which we do, it stands to reason that the new school will be an expensive monument within 10 years, and we’ll be in an Academy Street situation all over again. For the OLMPA kids to have to go to school in Branford, 15 miles from Madison, does not seem to be a overwhelming sacrifice for a parochial school education. Young couples moving into Madison, because of our academic reputation, should not be turned off by an older building containing a state-of-the-art teaching facility, structurally and instrumentally. Let’s be fair to all Madison taxpayers.
In short, the new Island Avenue Committee should determine a cost for upgrading the school to 2019 standards and compare it to the $58 million now proposed. Let’s be fair to all Madison taxpayers paying property taxes.
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