Torrington’s Board of Education has voted to temporarily close one of its elementary schools.
The board has been trying to decide between plans to permanently close, renovate or rebuild East School. The Torrington Public School Restructure Ad Hoc Committee told the school board that East School is in need of constant repairs and to bring the building up to code would cost about $4 million. To fully renovate, it would cost $17 million. To build a new school would cost $21 million after the city received it’s assumed reimbursement from the state.
At a meeting Wednesday, the board approved a "motion to temporarily shutter East School beginning 2018-19 fiscal year while maintaining control of the property for the purpose of evaluating the building and grounds for future use during which time there will be a redistricting of students to other schools."
But parents and staff are concerned about the impact of that decision.
"This is really personal to a lot of people," said Kathleen Pelke, a teacher at East School.
All the options on the table would mean a closure – whether temporary or permanent.
"If you close east without fully communicating the reasons we're doing it, the costs, the benefits if there are any, and where our children will end up, the people who can afford to move will figure it out and they'll move," one parent said.
But members of the board say the decision has been put off too long And with enrollment projected to decline over the next ten years, the board does not believe closing East would dramatically impact class sizes.
Pelke doesn’t see it that way.
"If we could have small class sizes, I would be really behind this but I just see it getting bigger. And they are all on top of each other," Pelke said.
The board members say while East is temporarily closed, they’ll figure out the next steps. The entire process – from evaluating to making a decision to build a new school or renovate the current one – could take up to ten years.