Madison residents vote against rebuilding school - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Madison residents vote against rebuilding school

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Voters are deciding when to close the Island Avenue School in Madison. (WFSB) Voters are deciding when to close the Island Avenue School in Madison. (WFSB)
MADISON, CT (WFSB) -

The fate of an elementary school in Madison was decided by voters on Tuesday.

Madison voters headed to the polls, deciding whether or not to pour money into an aging building or spend that money building a new one.

This was something three years in the making, but on Tuesday night, the majority voted against the referendum, with more than 2,722 voting against it and 1,452 voting in favor.

The question on the ballot asked voters whether or not the town should spend $34 million to rebuild the Ryerson Elementary School.

"A lot of people moved to Madison because of the schools and even if my kids won't benefit from the change we need to think about attracting people to town here," said Katie Volz, of Madison.

The votes were counted and the majority voted against the referendum, so the town won't move forward in rebuilding the Ryerson Elementary School.

It would have called for tearing down the existing school and building a new kindergarten through 3rd grade on that land. 

"Small schools have been shown over, over and over again to educate better than big elementary schools, and I think there is a good opportunity to save our small school culture as opposed to creating two much larger schools," said Chip Walz, a parent.

"I think you're basically putting band-aids on something that's just not going to get any better," said Kieran Doherty, a parent. "Island Avenue is going to close regardless."

If they had chosen to rebuild the Ryerson School, Island Avenue would have been open for at least four more years. That would have allowed kindergarteners to finish elementary school in the building.

Because the voters rejected the referendum, the school will close in two years because the superintendent said maintaining the aging building will exceed a million dollars a year. That funding comes out of the district's general operating budget.

"Obviously, it a setback but it doesn't define our district...our district's work is one of the best in the state, it doesn't define us. But we have challenges ahead of us now," said Superintendent Thomas Scarice.

Due to declining enrollment, Madison will operate with five schools instead of six.

Looking forward, Scarice said the district will start fixing up some schools, like electrical work, plumbing, h-vac and other issues they have up front that need to be looked at. 

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