The thinking is rather than build one new school, Danbury will add classrooms to three elementary schools and change the programing in the fourth to accommodate more students.
The November bond package, if the City Council agrees to give it to the voters, will consist of four items. They are $44 million for schools, $1,925,000 for bridge replacement and repairs, $550,000 for water system repairs and $7,975,000 for water treatment plant upgrades.
"It's big, but its really not when you look at the state reimbursement," said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.
The state will pay Danbury back 53 percent of its costs on the largest part of the bond package the $44,000,000.
This plan arose from the city's 2020 committee, which looked at the future of Danbury schools, plus work by a consultant. While many Connecticut towns and cities are seeing school populations fall, Danbury is experiencing growth. The question the city faced was what to do with more students. To deal with this problem this year, Danbury schools created a "sister schools program."
That program allows one school to shift extra students to its sister school, if needed.
"If you don't do anything, the cost would be higher," Boughton said. By that he meant if the city did nothing, school overcrowding might force Danbury to run double sessions in some schools. That would cost more than putting additions on schools.
These changes and additions are planned for September 2014, two years from now.
The city is considering adding classrooms to Stadley Rough, Shelter Rock, Park Avenue and it will shift the Head Start program from Mill Ridge Intermediate to the new Head Start center under construction on the corner of Foster Street and Boughton Street.
Once Head Start is completed on Foster Street, the school system will move its STEM program (science, technology, engineering and math for middle schoolers) to Mill Ridge Intermediate, freeing up middle school space in Rogers Park.
The city is talking about tackling overcrowding at Danbury High School after dealing with these elementary school and middle school issues. Danbury's high school is one of the state's largest high schools.
"I'm not making a decision and saying you have to do this. Let the public decide," Boughton said.
City Council President Joe Cavo said that while $40 million is a large sum, it's almost exactly what it would cost the city to build a new school. He said the problem with that approach a new school needs a principal, staffing and it is located in one neighborhood. He said these additions are spread out in three schools, and the additional staffing requirements won't include a principal.
"We have to do something," Cavo said. "This seems like the best approach."