The first Belleville Board of Education meeting on Sept. 21 brought talk of the district’s facilities conditions and the possibility of a referendum to pay for repairs. Board officials also discussed upgrades made during the summer.
Superintendent of Schools Richard Tomko told a small audience that facility upgrades are needed so much that the district may consider putting a referendum forward asking residents to approve funding to fix the problems, according to Jeanne Lombardi, school board vice president. An architect will visit each of the district’s schools to compile a list of what needs upgrading, she said.
“We’re having major issues with our facilities,” Lombardi said. In the meantime, temporary boilers were installed in School No. 8 and Belleville Middle School, she said, at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars.
In her report at the meeting, Lombardi thanked the district’s buildings and grounds workers for all their help over the summer. “I thank them for the hard work,” she said. “They did so much, even things outside what they’re asked with computers and smart boards.”
As for needed school upgrades, School No. 4 is the most frequent topic for needing repairs. The 100-plus-year-old school was supposed to be replaced by spending $29 million in a 2009 referendum. That year, former superintendent of schools Edward Kliszus put forth two plans to move students out of the school, but neither was acted upon.
Officials said at the time that the third floor was not being used at the school, and may have been uninhabitable. The plan was part of a $50 million-plus spending plan rejected by voters.
Several years earlier, a $70 million referendum to fund several repair projects was also rejected by a wide margin.