Local News

Alternative to new build was presented to Killington Select Board

By Curt Peterson

The $99,000,000 bond for a middle/high school in Woodstock is not the only option, according to Killington Selectman Jim Haff.

Four years ago a much less expensive proposal was presented to the Mountain Views Supervisory Union (MVSU), that would have fixed many of its failing systems and extended the useful life of the building 15-20 years, according to the proposal made by Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI). Haff invited Dean Angelites of JCI to the regular Killington Select Board meeting, Monday, Feb. 26, to show the board and voting public that option.

Killington is one of seven sending towns to MVSU – Bridgewater, Pomfret, Barnard, Woodstock, Plymouth and Reading, the other district members. The $99 million bond is on the school district ballot, March 5, Town Meeting Day.

Haff believes the current new build proposal is too expensive — and too small.

This is the first year in 16 that Haff has not been on the district school board. He was most recently also the chair of the buildings and grounds committee.

He worked closely with JCI on the $10 million proposal, which included upgrades and efficiencies to all the existing building in the districts — the middle school/high school as well as the elementary schools.

“The ‘New Build’ committee turned our suggestions down flat,” Haff said. “The ‘New Build’ committee said they wouldn’t put another penny into the existing facility.”

Business Operations Manager for MVSU School District James Fenn, refutes this and many other claims made by Haff and JCI.


Ben Ford, vice-chair of the MVSU board and chair of the New Build committee told the Mountain Times investing millions of dollars in renovating the existing building would just add that much to the total cost when the new building is constructed, one reason the proposal was rejected.

While the original $10 million plan was rejected, a smaller $3 million plan from JCI has been implemented in the elementary schools. And a new propane heating system was installed at the middle school/high school.

While Angelites said much of the incentive savings available 4 or 5  years ago are now gone, and the cost for a full renovation would be upwards of $35 million-$45 million, he contended: “The renovations would have provided a bigger, better school for half the proposed cost of new construction. And we can still do it.”

Haff also questioned the MVSU projection for the tax impact of the $99 million bond.

“There’s no way there will be ‘no payments’ due for the first three years,” Haff said.

According to Ford, the bond bank terms include a statutory delay in payments for up to five years. “We plan to delay only three years,” Ford said.

“Whatever we proposed, the New Build people just kept shutting us down,” Haff said, “they made it clear: They wanted a new building, no matter what.”

As the MVSU New Build committee toured district towns promoting the new building plan prior to the Town Meeting Day vote, the state is making moves to re-establish support for infrastructure financing.

Ford said the state’s Task Force for School Construction Aid has “pre-approved” state funding for up to 30% of the bond, should it be reinstated. According to Ford, the district’s architect has been working with the Task Force and feels they are “very serious” about restarting the program.

Haff pointed out that the state’s approval came with the statement that the per-student square-footage of the project was 30% too large.

“Jim is correct,” Ford said, “but that’s by standards established in the 1950s and 1960s. For example, modern special education requirements include one-on-one tutoring in an enclosed room. Those old limitations are being reviewed on a rush basis.”

Haff, also questioned the committee’s claims, saying he thinks the new campus will attract more students, calling it an unreasonable expectation.

Ford said the district has gained 150 students in the first six grades in the past two years — illustrating that growth estimates are reasonable.

Haff counted, “But the total student enrollment has actually decreased from 1,060 to 1,000 per the district’s current data — a loss of  60 students since 2021,” he giggled, pointing to the school report.

5 comments on “Alternative to new build was presented to Killington Select Board

  1. There were several alternatives offered. There was a value analysis performed for each option, why did that data not make it into this article?

      1. The school board’s website contains all the data, meeting minutes, archived meeting minutes, presentations on the cost/value of each option. This version of the new build is the best option after analyzing all other options.

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