Republican BET members (opinion): Trim the Julian Curtiss renovation project to the 'must haves'

Julian Curtiss School in Greenwich.

Julian Curtiss School in Greenwich.

Tyler Sizemore / Hearst Connecticut Media

Dear Julian Curtiss School Parents and Neighborhood Residents,

As you probably have heard, today we approved architectural funds for the continuation of the Julian Curtiss Renovation Project.

We strongly support a project to renovate this school and we are asking the Board of Education to rescope the project consistent with the priorities of the BOE’s Facilities Master Plan and the realities that have developed since the plan was completed in 2018.

We are asking the Board of Education to rescope the project to prioritize access for handicapped students and staff, improving air quality in a post-COVID world, and providing for building access security.

As you may know, enrollment in our Greenwich Schools is declining, creating excess classroom space across Greenwich’s 11 elementary schools. Due to this declining enrollment, we now have nearly enough vacant classrooms to accommodate a mid-sized elementary school. Meanwhile, the projected enrollment at Julian Curtiss planned for 350 students has not materialized. The 2020 actual enrollment of 272 students is projected to decline to 202 students over the next 10 years. Given these two realities, we should not add more classrooms nor add new common spaces.

Additionally, there are other very large Greenwich Schools capital investments requiring funding now and in the near future. These include $24 million to remove toxic materials at Greenwich High School, $28 million to renovate Old Greenwich School, $3 million to build new secure entrance at GHS, $8 million to remove toxic fields at Western Middle School, funds to provide handicap access and fix air systems at 5 other schools, and $111 million to replace Central Middle School. These projects are in addition to the annual capital maintenance budget that is increasing from the current level. We expect to provide emergency funding now estimated at $8.1 million, to restore the main building at North Mianus School.

We strongly support a “new” Julian Curtis and are asking the Board of Education to resize and rescope this project to only “must haves” so we can expeditiously fund and begin all the other projects needed throughout Greenwich.

Michael Mason, Karen Fassuliotis, Bill Drake, Leslie Tarkington, Debra Hess and Andy Duus are members of the Republican caucus of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.