East Lyme - The Board of Education is expected by January to select a design firm that will offer professional guidance to the board as it considers a path for its elementary schools.
The firm will analyze the district's facilities and the town's demographics and assist in holding public forums for the community, among other items, explained Board of Education Chairman Timothy Hagen.
The district's three aging elementary schools are considered to be in need of repairs. The board decided this summer to seek help from a design firm as it weighs plans and proposals. The long-term decision for the schools will ultimately be voted on by residents.
A design selection committee has narrowed its choice down to six firms from the 11 firms that submitted their qualifications. Those firms will then submit their proposals to the selection committee in early December. The selection committee for the design firm includes administrators, school board members and members of the town's building committee.
The committee will then interview at least four firms and propose its recommendation to the school board by January.
Hiring a design firm and holding public hearings is considered to be the first phase of a multi-step process on making a decision on the school facilities.
A separate task force, the district's facilities vision committee, presented its findings to the board last spring. The task force's top recommendation was renovating Flanders Elementary School and Lillie B. Haynes and closing Niantic Center School. The second option was closing all three schools and building a new complex, and the third was renovating all three schools.