Fairfield RTM approves 441 Mill Hill School, reluctantly
FAIRFIELD — A year after a request for more information and lengthy, heated town board meetings, Mill Hill School will ultimately be a 441 capacity school.
At their June 24 meeting, the Representative Town Meeting unanimously — but not without pushback from Democratic members — approved the $22 million funding resolution for a 441 Mill Hill School.
“I came away from both (the Board of Selectmen and Finance meeting) not understanding why the people who voted for the 441 did that, it was not clear or logical,” RTM Majority Leader Karen Wackerman said, expressing disappointment before voting in favor of the funding resolution.
“I just wanted to thank both the Majority and Deputy Majority Leader for supporting this proposal,” RTM Minority Deputy Leader Michael Herley said.
Proponents of a 441 school have pointed to incomplete data from the police department regarding safety concerns. the lack of an approved racial imbalance and redistricting plans and that enrollment projections did not show Mill Hill being over or near capacity in the next decade.
Advocates for a larger school have cited a growing student population and that a 504 school would be instrumental in the plan necessary to address the racial imbalance issue at McKinley School and the 50-year vision for the district.
The Democratic-majority body ultimately approved the funding resolution unanimously, citing looming deadlines.
Jason Li, a member of the Mill Hill Building Committee, said the body would be moving forward.
“Paperwork will be filed with the state and we can start planning when, where, how to start the actual building of the school.”
Superintendent Toni Jones, who is in her last week as the district’s leader, said she was glad that the vote had moved forward; Jones has previously expressed her discontent at the decision to fund a 441 instead of a 504 school.
“Fairfield Public Schools is very happy that we can continue moving forward to provide a 21st century renovated school for Mill Hill,” Jones said after the vote.
The Board of Education at its June 11 meeting voted 5-3 to alter its education specifics to accommodate a 441 Mill Hill School, overturning their previously written plans for a 504 facility.
The education board is now expecting to accommodate 21 classrooms instead of 24.
Though members at the Board of Education and at the RTM Committee level had inquired about the possibility of installing an additional classroom to the 441 size, the Mill Hill Building Committee said it would not be achievable given budget and deadline limitations.