School infrastructure has been on the minds of Cheshire officials for years now.
Discussion about exactly how to approach renovating or replacing the community’s ever-aging school buildings has occurred during Board of Education meetings, Town Council special sessions, School Modernization Committee reviews, and all the way back to political debates between candidates for local elected positions. Suffice it to say, there’s been no shortage of talk.
Many may be wondering when, exactly, the talk will move into action. The age of a building moves in only one direction, and as the months and years pass the schools need more attention, meaning more money for upkeep and more chances for issues to arise. Many, especially within the School District itself, are clearly ready to move from the talking to the doing portion of this project.
Yet, as this publication has been saying from the beginning, no proposal should be put before the voters at referendum before everything has been considered, debated, and considered again. That’s why we are in favor of allowing time for Councilor Jim Jinks to propose whatever alternative plan he may have in the works. When it comes to options, more is always better.
Last week, Jinks failed to lay out exactly how his future proposal would differ from the two being discussed at the moment — the two that were proposed by the School Modernization Committee back in April. Jinks was a part of that Committee, but clearly he believes that another way of approaching this particular problem may prove to be best. If he can come up with a cohesive plan in the very near future, it will give the Council an additional option to mull over.
Of course, balance must always be struck between debate and the need to act. The SMC spent considerable time hashing these issues out, and it would be imprudent to suddenly begin proposing multiple additional plans that end up making their work and suggestions obsolete. One wants to make sure discussion doesn’t become endless.
Yet, with the recent news that Town officials likely won’t be sending anything to referendum this fall and appear to be eyeing a special referendum perhaps sometime next spring, the community has plenty of time to weigh what it does and does not want out of this very expensive endeavor. Whatever is decided upon should be the option that receives the most vetting, the most discussion, and ultimately the most support.
Nothing is written in stone. The SMC has presented two possible scenarios. The Council can, with input from both the Board of Education and the public, decide to go with one of the two, or cobble something together that takes a bit from one, a bit from the other, and sets the course for the future.
It’s doubtful that, at the end of this entire process, everyone will be on board with what is decided. And we are yet to hear from the public as a whole. Voters, whenever provided an opportunity to decide this issue, may conclude that nothing meets with their approval and force local leaders to, if not go back to square-one, then at least wipe away much of what is currently on the drawing board.
But given the amount of time the Town has allotted for discussion, and the opportunities there will be for new ideas to be presented, new options to be created, no one will arrive at their local polling stations uninformed about the details. If the Council is eyeing a 2022 date for a special referendum, then take this time to put everything on the table.
Maybe Jinks’ ideas won’t amount to much, or won’t end up being cost effective. But now is the time to find out.