When it was time to rally residents to help get the vote out for a Berlin High School renovation project, Sue Kozlowski helped form "Yes For BHS."
The referendum passed by a 2-to-1 margin and educators and residents were happy.
Now 18 months later, the Public Building Commission has sent the project back to the Town Council (It appears on the Sept. 11 Town Council agenda) fearing that the project can't be completed within or close to the referendum budget of $69.9 million.
"When asked my thoughts on the unanimous decision by the PBC to send the High School Renovation project back to the Town Council, I couldn't agree more with Adam Salina," Kozlowski said. "In a Sept. 4th, Berlin Patch article, Adam commented, 'Quite frankly, I am disgusted, outraged and embarrassed that this team could not do the job they promised.'
"At a meeting of BHS-Yes members and town citizens held on Feb. 13th, 2012, I was handed a schedule of every upcoming BOE, PBC, and Town Council meeting. I was encouraged to attend as many as I could because the project was not on schedule.
"At that point, I knew we were in trouble. I don't want to point fingers because I wouldn't even know who to blame. But we do not need to 'reinvent the wheel' here. This is not the first high school in our area to be renovated. If members of the council and commissions in our town have not experienced this, then we need to ask outsiders who have been through this process. And if that is not enough, then we need to pay people to tell us how this should be run.
"This is not a project that the citizens of Berlin can monitor and oversee on a detailed level. We are paying tax money to complete this project and somewhere accountability has been lost."
Carrie Bassett, who has four children in the Berlin School system and runs a photography studio, does not understand how the budget was so compromised.
"A reason I choose to continue living in Berlin is because of the education that my four children receive here. I was excited that the high school was set to be renovated and programs improved to meet accreditation standards. I am disappointed that we have a construction team that provided the town with a figure to complete the plans, that now feel they need more in the budget to complete their own plans.
"As a business person myself, I plan the next job based on past experience with similar jobs. I consider how long a job typically takes and I carefully check my vendors and their pricing and then price my work accordingly. If I then agree to work with a client for a set amount of money and it ends up that I have miscalculated the hours I needed to put in to complete the job, or my vendors raised their prices, I get stuck with the loss and not my client. I then have to re-figure what I learned from this going forward with the next job, but again, it is not the fault of the client.
"I believe this construction team should honor the set budget that they set with their client, the Town of Berlin. If they go over budget it is, in my opinion, their error and they should take a loss and not require the town to revamp the plans or to have to come up with more money in the budget."
Berlin resident Ken Hurd has three children and has a unique view as he is an elementary administrator in Hartford.
"I am deeply disappointed," he said. "I am saddened that our children are still going to school in a building that is in such poor condition. The town of Berlin has too much pride to allow this to continue to be an unresolved issue. At this point, we need our town leaders to take control of the situation and get the project under control.
"After all of headaches, I hope that we end up with a High School that will be worth the wait. It would be embarrassing and shameful if we just do enough to get by. If we need to send it to referendum again, and increase the amount for the project to done correctly, then so be it."
Parents are not the only ones disappointed by the delay.
Tori Prokop, a senior at Berlin High School, was instrumental in helping the referendum get passed. She along with a group of students led tours for residents and officials to show them the deteriorating condition of the school.
"A bunch of us got involved and worked hard to make a difference and now it feels like it's going to be a waste," Prokop said. "To get it started and now have it stop is disappointing.
"I am so sick of having the roof leak and half the classrooms get water in them. I'm a senior so I'll be moving on but I feel bad for the kids who have to put up ith this for the future. The kids don't talk about it but when it comes up, we just laugh about it because we feel like it's never going to happen. Some kid is going to get hit by a ceiling tile or get sick from mold but it will be too late. It feels like it's going to take something tragic to happen before people understand how bad it is.
"We were all so excited because we felt like we helped change things and make things better for the kids at Berlin High School. Now it just feels like a big waste of time."