Westport Schools Superintendent Colleen Palmer told parents tonight a decision on whether students can return to air quality-challenged Coleytown Middle School (CMS) this school year will be made at the latest by Thanksgiving.
“While this determination might be made as early as several weeks from now, depending on various results of the forensic industrial hygienist, the outside timeline is anticipated to be no later than Thanksgiving,” she said in an email.
Her email came almost three weeks after CMS was shut down following extensive complaints of illness among staff and students. Students were dispersed to Bedford Middle School (BMS) and Staples High School.
In a 10-page, single-space email attachment, Palmer said work is underway on possibly installing modular classrooms at BMS. But that could take “approximately eight weeks, at best” if the go-ahead comes, she said.
Palmer said the District “has a thorough, in-depth plan to determine the future pathway of correcting the facility issues at CMS or determining that if the issues are so great to correct and prohibitively costly, the town should invest in a new facility.”
If the District opts to remediate the facility once all the investigation is complete and if the scope of the remediation work is so extensive that it cannot be completed by fall 2019, “the District has already begun contingency planning for a year from now if it had seven schools it could utilize,” she said.
If the community decides to build a new school, “there will be an extended period of time of a few years that the District would need to map that out as well,” Palmer said.
She added: “Given the lead time of planning for fall 2019, the District may seek to find alternative ways to house its students than the current model which was put in place with a constricted timeline.”
Palmer said the schools’ Finance and Facilities Committee will meet Thursday at 7:30 a.m. in rooms 307/309 of Town Hall to further discuss the issues.