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Weston boards approve $508,768 in supplemental appropriations

moneyThe boards of finance and selectmen voted Monday to approve more than a half-million dollars in three separate supplemental appropriations.

The first appropriation, a total of $56,601, was approved to cover the costs of additional police officers on the school campus from Dec. 17, 2012 (after the school shootings in Newtown) to the present.

Police Chief John Troxell said in the week immediately following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, at the request of the school administration, a police officer was stationed in each of Weston’s four schools, and two additional officers patrolled the school campus during the school day.

That was eventually scaled back to an officer in each building and one on campus. Then security officers for each building, rather than police officers, were hired; those were paid for money available in the school budget.

Fiber optic cables

The boards, in the June 10 joint session, also approved $17,435 to replace and properly repair fiber optic cables and conduit at the schools that were damaged during the wetlands mitigation project behind Weston Middle School.

Contractors last September contacted Call Before You Dig as they were required to do, said First Selectman Gayle Weinstein. Cable locations were marked and contractors dug where they were supposed to, but the lines had apparently “migrated” by as much as three feet due to the shifting nature of the soil, and the lines that bring Internet access and phone communications from town hall to the school campus were damaged.

Erik Haakonsen, the schools IT director, said the lines were patched, but the schools have essentially been running at about half of their full capacity.

Superintendent Colleen Palmer said teachers have been instructed to limit Internet usage as much as possible, but when all students are online, the system is extremely slow.

Mr. Haakonsen said he and Town Administrator Tom Landry put two proposals out to bid: one to repair the breaks and one to more fully replace conduit.

One contractor would not bid on the first proposal, Mr. Haakonsen said, because they were not willing to guarantee the repairs for any length of time; another bid $12,466, but said that was variable, depending on problems that might be discovered.

The best bid for the second option was $17,435. Jerry Sargent, chairman of the finance board, asked whether it was worth the $5,000 difference to take a chance the contractor might find problems and charge at least that to fix the cables and conduit properly.

Mr. Haakonsen said, “My concern is if you go with the $12,000 option, we may have to come back to you with a request for more money.”

Members of both boards agreed, and unanimously approved the slightly more expensive fix.

Safety initiatives

A third appropriation of $434,732 was  approved for “school safety initiatives” after the financiers, the selectmen, and members of the school board met in executive session.

The three supplemental appropriations total $508,768 and will be taken from the general fund.

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