State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg today joined what he said was a parental call for a townwide committee to plan for student needs following closure of Coleytown Middle School (CMS).
In a letter to Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer, Steinberg said: “I add my voice to those of the Coleytown Middle School PTA Board, calling for the immediate establishment of a townwide committee to plan for the students’ educational needs until CMS is deemed safe for education.”
Steinberg, a Democrat who is seeking to retain his 136th state Assembly seat in face of a challenge from Republican Greg Kraut, added: “I feel very strongly this is the right thing to do at this time.”
A former CMS student, Steinberg issued his appeal following closure of the school last month because of air quality issues. Students are attending Bedford Middle School and Staples High School for the balance of the school year.
“We all appreciate the efforts that you and your staff, as well as the principal and staff at CMS, have exerted to address this threat to student/teacher health,” Steinberg said.
“We’re hopeful that the laboratory results will give us reason to believe that the school can be remediated and won’t require razing the building.
“But, even as we wait for the definitive verdict, we need to move forward with planning for our students which recognizes the possibility of longterm dislocation. A committee dedicated to this task is the right response.”
He said it is “essential that this committee includes a broader cross section of our town including PTA, teachers and parents. It’s important that the community not feel like spectators; These decisions will affect all of Westport.”
The move to establish a townwide committee recalled a 2007 decision by then First Selectman Gordon Joseloff (now WestportNow editor and publisher) to establish a townwide committee to deal with a mold problem at Kings Highway Elementary School.
Acting on an appeal from parents, Joseloff said his authority to intervene was based on town ownership of the school building. Current First Selectman Jim Marpe was a member of the Board of Education at the time.