The Town Council decided Wednesday to proceed with negotiating a contract with a consultating firm to manage the task force creating a long-term building plan for the schools.
The council did not vote on the contract with Mike Zuba, of Milone & MacBroom, but directed the town manager to discuss the contract with the firm. A vote would be taken at a later date.
The firm would charge $40,000 to serve as facilitator for the task force, evaluate different options for the schools and complete the work in seven months.
The school board has not yet made a decision on the future of Superintendent Paul Kadri, who was placed on leave in May.
In addition, School Facilities Director Wes Greeleaf, who has been with Groton for 30 years and handled the consolidation of middle school buildings, plans to retire this fall.
Mayor Heather Bond Somers said the council may need to handle the administrative work of the task force, given uncertainty in the school department.
“They want to get going, it’s just they have a lot going on there, so taking this on ourselves would help take some of the burden they’re under right now,” she said.
Representative Town Meeting provided $75,000 for future school planning, so that money could be used to hire Zuba. Town Manager Mark Oefinger said the task force may also need an architect. He said there’s about $50,000 from the former Phase II school construction plan that could be tapped if the $75,000 runs out.
on future planning along with a redistricting plan to satisfy the state. Groton was cited by the state for a racial imbalance at Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School, and must present a plan to the state in October to the correct the imbalance. Five other Groton schools have pending imbalances.
The firm reviewed population and other data, and told the school board this week that enrollment at Catherine Kolnaski would climb to nearly 500 students within two years. The firm also said the student population of Groton's two middle schools would quickly become imbalanced as enrollment climbs at West Side and falls at Cutler Middle School.
Zuba said short-term redistricting should fit into a larger plan for the schools so it does not have to be done repeatedly.