BET Democratic Candidates: What’s the Holdup on Central Middle School?

Submitted by the Democratic candidates for Board of Estimate and Taxation: Elliot Alchek, Matt DesChamps, Scott Kalb, Leslie Moriarty, Stephen Selbst, David Weisbrod

Let’s cut to the chase.

The new Central Middle School (CMS) was designed by educational experts and approved by the bipartisan Board of Education (BOE). The size of the school is not an accident – every square foot was scrutinized with an eye toward saving money where possible while refusing to compromise on needed educational space. The CMS Building Committee (CMSBC) has been working with architectural and construction professionals to create an inspirational building and site design respectful of the neighborhood. The bipartisan CMSBC approved that design.The CMS project has broad support from the community in addition to stamps of approval from bipartisan entities – the BOE and CMSBC.

So where’s the hold up?

The road block is coming from the six Republicans on the town finance board – the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET). By virtue of winning more BET votes in aggregate in the 2021 town election, those six Republicans wield seven votes and have successfully stalled the funding for this project. And for every month the project is stalled, taxpayers rack up an estimated $365K in project cost escalation. You may recall that this project was “fast tracked” when the building was condemned in 2022. Temporary repairs were made to reinforce the walls, but the remediation is only good for five years. The clock is ticking, costs are increasing, and a year has already passed.

Why are BET Republicans stalling? Because they do not want to pay what it costs to build a new middle school. They are clinging to inaccurate, outdated construction estimates that were never achievable. Instead of asking, ‘What kind of school do we need?’ they are asking, ‘How do we shrink the school to fit what we want to spend?’ Their plan from the outset has been to force the BOE to shrink the size of the school far below what their experts have deemed necessary for quality middle school education and for the long term. The bipartisan BOE voted on September 21 to ask the Republican-controlled BET to quit the stalling and make up the $42 million budget shortfall to move forward with the CMS project.

All six BET Democrats believe our students and community deserve safe, modern schools designed by educational experts that will meet our needs for the long term; not ones cobbled together by nickel-and-dimers. All six BET Democrats strongly support our school projects and will continue to fight for our students.

All six BET Democrats need your vote on November 7th to win control of the BET and prioritize our schools. It doesn’t matter what your party affiliation is – this is about something larger than that. Let’s get this done for our kids and our town.

Elliot Alchek, Matt DesChamps, Scott Kalb, Leslie Moriarty, Stephen Selbst, David Weisbrod

[Vote on CMS starts at about 2:22:00]