REPUBLICANS: THE PARTY OF YES AND KNOW
Renovate As New – Violated all normal procedures and bypassed all safeguards.
YES. It was our Republican Council members that called out the Democrats after they endorsed letting the School Building committee spend up to $170k of taxpayers’ money to prepare a report for them about a “Renovate as New” project that would have cost over $62,000,000 –WITH NO INPUT OR APPROVAL from either the Town Council or the Board of Education. The Republican members of the Town Council and the Board of Education only learned about the ongoing project AFTER the money was spent and the “plan” was completed.
We KNOW. Lisa Thomas and Jenn Beausoleil betrayed Coventry taxpayers when they allowed the School Building Committee to spend Coventry taxpayer’s dollars to develop the Renovate As New Project with a price tag of $62m. The Board of Education never discussed this project
during any meetings. They never requested the Town Council charge the School Building Committee to study this project or to spend taxpayers’ money to study it. This is unprecedented and wrong. The School Building Committee presented this project in March 2022. The intention was to bring this project to a referendum by June 2022, with no plans to
even vet the project properly or hold public hearings. After the Democrat budget proposal was defeated at referendum, Jenn Beausoleil the project at a Board of Education meeting “due to the Economic conditions”. Of course, the economic conditions were the same as they were when the project was begun in January. They Democrats on both the Town Council and the Board of Education are out of control and don’t seem to be held back by proper procedures or checks and balances that we have always followed. We all need to worry about WHEN the
Democrats will bring this project back to taxpayers.
We KNOW that the Democrats bypassed all expected procedures and bypassed safeguards to develop this project plan. Any major project, such as a $62,000,000 renovation project, should follow normal procedures and safeguards. The typical approach would be for the Board of Education to have extensive discussions to determine exactly what the educational and operational needs that they would like to address. Then they would consider options to address those needs and eventually vote to approve bringing a plan to the Town Council for their consideration. The Town Council would then evaluate the project and the needs and determine first if they agree that the proposed project is needed and appropriate. If they agree it was, the Town Council would determine if, and when, the project should move to the planning stage. Once the Town Council votes to move ahead with the project then the Town Council would charge a building committee to investigate and create plans to address the educational and operational needs of the school system and to investigate alternatives that may have an advantage. Then the Town Council would appropriate funds or make funds available to be used on this specific project. If the Building Committee needed additional funding as they developed the
plans, they would come back to the Town Council for that additional funding.
Typically, a large-scale project like this would take many months or more to complete. The citizens of Coventry would be brought invited to informational hearings about the project and be given the opportunity to provide input as the project developed and eventually to try and
gain their support for the project. John Elsesser, our former town manager, is quoted in the minutes of the Building Committee meeting as saying that this project had a drop-dead deadline of June 30th for approval by the Board of Education and Town Councill because they wanted to apply for state grants at that time. That would mean that less than six months from when the contractor was hired to begin the planning for the project the Democrats planned for both the Board of Education and the Town Council would approve this $62,000,000 project.
In fact, the plans were still being developed in April and the very first time that ALL the members of the Board of Education and ALL the members of the Town Council would have the opportunity to learn that this project was ongoing and to see the plans was at a May 12, 2022 meeting of the Board of Education, with the Town Council having been invited. That would have meant that in about six weeks from the very first time the Republican members had heard about this $62,000,0000 plan and seen the plan, the Democrats expected to gain approval from the Board of Education and the Town Council and move this project forward. The Democrats were told about this deadline by John Elsesser, when it was decided to move forward and spend up to $170,00 of taxpayers’ money to begin developing these plans. That is taxpayers’ money that we can never get back.
We also KNOW this came in just after doing major renovations internal to both CNHMS and CHS spending millions in tax payers dollars.
This plan would raise your property taxes $2,400,000 or 7.6% in year 1. After the referendum failed it forced the democrats to put this plan on HOLD FOR NOW.
In addition, The Board of Education is looking to conduct further review of facilities - including but not limited to moving both CGS and GHR to the land behind the administration building and building a separate annex for the weight room. This is in addition to the Build as new referenced above.
Here is an email that went out to Coventry public school families:
Coventry Public Schools - Vision 2033
September 9, 2023
Dear Coventry Public Schools Community Member,
As you may know, Coventry Public Schools has made great strides and progress over the past decade. The list of accomplishments is outstanding. Our priority to provide the same opportunities for our students, as other students across the state and country, has always been at the forefront. However, the landscape of education is evolving quickly, as are the needs of our students. As an educational institution, we must anticipate what the future of education will look like in order to support these ever-changing needs. Adjustments will need to be considered that are necessary to ensure the children of Coventry continue to be prepared and positioned for success once they are outside of our school walls.
It is with this email, I announce that Coventry Public Schools will be embarking on a journey to evaluate our current facilities and develop a long-term plan to support our students and to maximize efficiencies. This task will require thoughtful preparation grounded in research that considers, as a district, what our building needs will be for the future. This multi-year initiative will require the support of the community and would not be complete without obtaining input from internal and external stakeholders. The more community involvement we have, the more fruitful the outcome. With that, I ask, would you be willing to volunteer your time and/or expertise as we begin this journey to reimagine what our school facilities will look like?
We are in the process of scheduling an information session and will be sending those details out in the coming weeks. I hope you will consider attending this session and learning about how your involvement can shape the future of Coventry Public Schools. I would also encourage you to share this information with any community member you believe would be interested in being part of this exciting transformation.
David J. Petrone, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Coventry Public Schools
1700 Main Street
Coventry, CT 06238
Tel: (860) 742-7317 x2
Fax: (860) 742-4567