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    Local News
    Sunday, February 25, 2024

    Norwich school construction referendum passes

    Norwich ― Voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum for a $385 million overhaul of city schools, with four new elementary schools and a major renovation to one middle school.

    Not including absentee ballots, the measure passed handily in all six voting precincts, with 4,820 in favor and 3,253 voting against the plan.

    The project calls for consolidating the current seven elementary schools into four new schools that would be built on the grounds of the John B. Stanton, Moriarty Environmental Sciences and Uncas schools and the former site of the Greeneville School. The Teachers Memorial Global Studies Magnet Middle School either would be substantially renovated or replaced. The Samuel Huntington School would be renovated and converted into the adult education center and administrative offices.

    Although the bond question asked for $385 million, the city’s total costs would range from $97 million to $153 million, depending on state reimbursement levels.

    Without the new schools construction bond, the city would face an estimated $225 million with no state reimbursement just to repair and maintain the current city schools, which date from 1925 to 1975.

    Supporters engaged in a late “vote yes for our children” push over the past three weeks, with members of the Norwich NAACP branch and the branch’s youth council circulating fliers and cards and standing outside polling places on Tuesday. The local Trades Council labor union mailed postcards to residents with the same message.

    Mark Bettencourt, chairman of the School Building Committee, thanked supporters who led the campaign push and thanked voters for supporting the project.

    “I’m very impressed, very happy,” Bettencourt said. “I certainly want to thank everyone who helped get this passed.”

    c.bessette@theday.com

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