First Selectman Pat Llodra issued a letter to the community March 20 to update residents and others about processes to determine the fate and future of the Sandy Hook School building and program. Mrs Llodra said those processes will become very active over the next two months.
Calling the planned decisionmaking effort “our first and most important challenge as a community,” the first selectman reminded residents that “each and every action step is much, much more involved than the description [below] implies.”
She said elected representatives of the Boards of Selectmen, Finance, and Education and the Legislative Council combined will carefully review every option for locating, building, and rebuilding Sandy Hook School.
“Ultimately, these elected representatives will make recommendations based on an analysis of these options in the context of the community ‘voice’ and understanding of the greater good, including short- and long-term district education goals and vision for the community,” Mrs Llodra wrote in a statement provided to The Bee. “The government meetings will be public, carefully structured, and led by facilitators experienced in leading groups in complex decisionmaking.”
The first selectman’s goal is to have that process complete by May 1.
“This is going to be difficult work — full of challenges, emotion, and personal passions. I ask all to be patient with us in this process,” Mrs Llodra stated. “We are committed to serving you and will always do our best, but this is new territory for all of us.”
She said 28 individual members of the combined boards and council will come to these decisionmaking sessions having had many opportunities to hear and feel the voices of the community, particularly of those for whom the events of 12/14 were so significant and which bear most directly on the school facility decision.
“We are gathering input from many constituencies: the general public; Sandy Hook School parents; parents of the students who survived; parents of victims; and Sandy Hook teachers and staff,” Mrs Llodra said in the release. “Each of these input sessions are held multiple times with groups varying in size from many members to a single participant.”
The panel expects that input process to be substantially complete within approximately two weeks.
“But, every Newtown person should know that each of us remains open to comments and suggestions throughout the entire review process,” she added. “E-mails, calls, and general correspondence are welcome at all times.”
While the process to gather input has been unfolding, another group commissioned by Mrs Llodra has been conducting what she described as “a vigorous review of all the options for school siting, building, [and/or] rebuilding.”
“This research group is a combination of Land Use staff and private individuals from Newtown and Sandy Hook involved in the construction and engineering fields,” she stated. “The research will provide essential information about each option and will help inform and guide the government review.”
Once the 28-member panel has a plan for moving forward, officials will reconvene with state and federal partners to determine funding sources.
“I continue to be confident that these partners will do every thing possible to help us implement our plan for the Sandy Hook School facility,” Mrs Llodra concluded. “Once we have a plan and funding secured, the project will follow the typical school construction process.”