Sherman voters approve $175K to study how to repair a school that's in 'bad shape'

SHERMAN — Voters have approved the $175,000 needed to advance repairs to the declining Sherman School. 

Close to 60 people voted on Nov. 10 to approve the funding request, with six people voting against, said First Selectman Don Lowe. Now, the Sherman School Building Committee will begin working with consultants and architects to develop a comprehensive plan to repair the school's infrastructure, which officials say is in poor shape. 

“We thank the community members that came out on Nov. 10 to support our efforts in repairing the school building,” Sherman School Building Committee Chairman Pam Bonner said in a news release. “Having Charter Hall full of people was a sign of how many people believe this is a priority. We can now move forward and create a viable solution for presentation in a future referendum.”

The Sherman School Building Committee contacted Sherman First Selectman Don Lowe on Oct. 21 to share the “need for substantive repair” of the Sherman School facility’s infrastructure. Given the “unique timing constraints of advancing a multi-faceted planning process,” the committee requested an allocation of $175,000 from the capital non-recurring fund to support the repairs. This allocation finances architectural services; pre-construction management and planning services; schematic design and engineering services; and legal services to advance the school facility.

In its letter to Lowe, the committee said if its funding request is approved, members can execute contracts for architectural services no later than mid-November. From there, pre-construction management and planning services can start no later than early January, and the finalized conceptual design plans and verified cost estimates can be submitted to taxpayers via a referendum in either May or June.

Lowe counted about 65 people in attendance at the special town meeting on Nov. 10. Prior to the vote on the committee’s request, he said each member of the Sherman School Building Committee shared their expertise concerning the school repairs project and their opinion about the school’s condition.

“Collectively, they all described the school in various degrees of bad shape,” Lowe said.

Some residents questioned why the funding was needed, he said. 

“There was concern from a couple of people in the audience that money is being wasted and we could have used the work of previous consultants,” Lowe said. 

But he said the consultants will be used to determine the scope and cost of the project ahead of a referendum. 

Sherman School playground installed

Approval of the funds comes as new playground equipment is installed at the school, replacing 20-year-old equipment. The new playground has a jungle gym, a rope climbing apparatus and a swing set, among other features.

Bonner said the installation was pushed back because “many delays in delivery of correct pieces,” preventing the permanent surface from being poured during the warmer weather. Instead, temporary wood chips were installed to allow the playground to open safely.

She stressed the installation of wood chips is at no additional cost to the committee, adding that while it’s “not the timetable we’d prefer,” it’s “a satisfactory result for the time being.”

Bonner said the total monies expended for the new playground will not exceed $450,000, which was approved by town meetings.