Council Approves Funding for Cafeteria Renovation Project

The Chelsea High School cafeteria cannot meet the needs of its growing student population.

Monday night, the City Council approved a number of financial orders that will help fund the expansion of the cafeteria.

“The CPS cafeteria project was conceived as an expansion of the CHS cafeteria student seating area and kitchen and relocation of the teacher dining and teacher prep areas,” stated Maltez. “The cafeteria was built for 1,000 students, but with nearly 1,700 students in (school year) 2023, it does not meet current needs.”

The total estimated cost of the base project is $6 million, with funding anticipated from the school lunch fund, prior school capital projects that are no longer active (a total of $2.47 million), and Capital Investment Plan (CIP) FY24 new project funding in the amount of $1,505,000.

Most of the money is being pulled out of other projects that were either finished under budget or abandoned, according to District 1 Councilor Todd Taylor.

“Most of the money is just sitting there, so we are moving that money over to pay for (the cafeteria project),” said Taylor. “We have a very dire need at the high school.”

The cafeteria was originally built to handle a capacity of 1,000 students, Taylor said.

“Now we have 1,700,” he said. “This really needs to get done.”

In other business, the council passed a resolution congratulating Brenda Pena for her appointment as the Essex County Commissioner for the Status of Women.

Pena is currently the coordinator of social work at Chelsea High School and has a long track record as an educator across the region.

“I would like to thank Brenda for choosing Chelsea and Chelsea for choosing her,” said Councilor-at-Large Leo Robinson. “I think it is wonderful that you are here working with our kids around mental health issues and being a mentor for the kids in Chelsea.”

District 5 Councilor Lisa Santagate said the work Pena and others do in the schools around social and emotional wellness is imperative.

“Thank you for continuing to give your all to the city of Chelsea,” said Councilor-at-Large Kelly Garcia. “We appreciate you, we love you, and we honor you.”

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