WINSLOW — School Board members discussed at their meeting Monday evening what their options might be in the event that the Town Council votes to bond a school renovation project that the board did not approve.

Board members and administrators voiced their uncertainty about what the Council might do at their upcoming April 9 meeting. It will follow a nearly 3-hour-long meeting earlier this month, during which councilors put the fate of the vexed $8.6 million to close the junior high school and create new space to accommodate the sixth, seventh and eighth grades in the elementary and high schools that the building committee and school board had both already approved, in doubt.

After the original $10.33 million bond that included a 600-seat auditorium was rejected in November, the council gave the board a bond cap of $7.83 million to work with as they pursued a new plan that voters might approve. The plan that the school board approved, which includes a scaled-back auditoirum, however, is about $770,000 over that targeted budget.

Now, the council plans on voting on two proposals at its next meeting: a plan that includes an auditorium and was approved by the school board, and a $7.52 million plan that does not include an auditorium and that the school board never took up for a vote.

The board is worried that the council could bypass the board and bond a project that not only did they not approve, but they did not take up for a vote.

Superintendent Eric Haley said there is one step, in between voters approving a school bond and the start of a project, where they could intervene — if the situation came to that point — which would be purposefully not sending a letter to the state Department of Education asking for their permission to begin the project.

“Hopefully it won’t get to that point,” said Joel Selwood, who chairs the board.

In other business, administrators talked about some revisions they’ve made in regard to school safety after a shooting that killed 17 students and staff members at a high school Parkland, Florida.

At the high school, study hall periods that had been held out in the commons near the front entrance have been moved to classrooms. Similarly, students can no longer eat lunch in that area. They also are required to wait for the bus inside the school rather than outside. Students used to be able to get permission to retrieve items from their cars and go on their own, but they’re now escorted by a faculty member.

The school is also getting estimates on a buzzer system.

At the junior high, the issue of school safety has been on the agenda for every faculty meeting since the Parkland shooting. Some measures that have been implemented include cutting down to only one entrance for drop off and pick up, as well as greeting students as they arrive.

At the junior high and elementary, the school resource officer has been bringing daytime patrol officers into the building so that they’re more familiar with the layouts of the respective buildings.

At a recent Town Council meeting, Winslow Police Chief Shawn O’Leary told town and school officials that he and his team would be interested in sitting down with the board to discuss how they can collaborate on the issue.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg


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