Council debates idea of moving BOE offices to police HQ
NEW CANAAN — As the Board of Education is working to create an internal Headquarters Committee to determine the future location of central office, other town bodies are also contemplating where to best place school administrators.
The use of $500,000 in funds that could determine the plausibility of moving school administrators to the third floor of the police department was a topic of debate at the Town Council’s Tuesday budget review session, at which the town’s $10 million in capital project's took center stage.
The $500,000 set aside in the proposed 2018-2019 town operating budget would pay for an analysis as well as architectural renderings for the police building that has long needed improvements, which could begin as soon as summer 2019.
“Not a lot has been done to that building in some 35 years,” said Town Council member Penny Young at Tuesday’s meeting. Young added that before money is set aside to enable Central Office’s move to the police station, the town should first make sure it’s feasible.
“I think we all need to have some serious conversations about what is going to be included in that $500,000,” Young said.
In February, while discussing the Town Buildings budget, the Board of Finance entertained the possibility of moving education headquarters to the third floor of the police department as a money saving measure. Currently, the district pays $300,000 a year to rent its Locust Avenue space.
“When the recommendation was made to put them in the police building, the Board of Education really had not been seriously conferred with as to what specific needs they had from a space standpoint,” Young said.
The Headquarters Committee, expected to be formed Monday by the Board of Education, would work to determine if the third floor of the police department would meet the administration’s spatial needs.
Even without confirmation from the Board of Education, others on the Town Council said that because the bulk of the set aside $500,000 is for the police department, it should remain untouched in the capital budget.
According to Kevin Moynihan, the Board of Education currently has 9,400 square feet on two floors at Locust Avenue. With a small addition over the rear of the building, school administrators would have 10,000 square feet of space on one floor, as opposed to two. And the merger could save the town money.
“Rather than spending effectively $7 or $8 million on a building for only a police department, the first two floors could be renovated for $4 to $5 million for the police department, and the top floor could be renovated for $2 million for the Board of Ed(ucation). So you’re getting more bang for your buck to put them in space that would meet their needs,” said First Selectman Kevin Moynihan.
Superintendent of Schools Bryan Luizzi, who was present at the meeting, said he recently had a chance to walk the facilities. He said the board would need to make sure there was adequate parking, safety for visitors, and no adverse effect on Central Office functions, like district registration, that might come with the move.
“Part of the idea around the committee for the Board of Education was to look at space, it’s form and function. Just to make sure we identify all of those functional aspects that are important to consider as well, in doing anything like this, to make sure we meet all of those needs that the space is currently serving,” Luizzi said.
No motion was made to amend or cut the $500,000 capital project.
The Town Council will host an April 3 public hearing on the budget, ahead of its final vote on the budget April 5.
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