Korn’s Future Upended, as Petition sparks May 4th Referendum.


Francis E. Korn Elementary, April 24th, 2021.

Following the Selectmen’s rejection to take ownership of the former Korn Elementary School building, 118 Durham town residents signed a petition to: “discuss and possibly act on the acquisition by the Town of Durham of the former Korn Elementary School building and associated land from Regional School District 13, at no cost to the Town, for a future community center and/or other possible uses?” which legally required the town to hold a Special Town Meeting.

The petition influenced all three of Durham’s Selectmen to adjourn the Special Town Meeting, to move the discussion to a town referendum, concurrent to the annual district budget referendum, on Tuesday, May 4th. 

Durham voters will vote either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the following questions: 

(Question #1) Shall the Town acquire the former Francis E. Korn Elementary School building and associated land from Regional School District 13 for the purchase price of $1.00, and authorize the Board of Selectmen to do all other things necessary and legally proper to complete this transaction? 

(Question #2) Shall the Town transfer $1,000,000 from #8520068-54300 Facilities Building Projects Reserve to #9520068-57202 CIP Facilities Buildings for Phase 1 of several phases of the renovation of Korn School. The entire project, if done at once, was last estimated at $7.1 million in 2018 for costs associated with the former Korn Elementary School Building should the Town decide to accept the same from Regional School District 13, as recommended by the Board of Finance at their April 20, 2021 meeting? 

All registered voters and property owners with at least $1,000 in assessed property value from the completed Grand List of 2020 are eligible to vote. 

Voters will be able to vote by absentee ballot in accordance with Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 10E. 

If Durham’s vote is in favor of both questions, the town will use Korn School for various purposes; ranging from Community/Senior Center, Emergency Operations Center, Storage, or for other municipal needs. 

The $1. million, as stated in question #2, would be set aside for the first phase of capital improvements, which would likely be one of the many fiscal phases approved by the voters. In a 2018 building study of Korn School, the schools renovation cost was estimated to be $7.1 million; meaning if question #2 is accepted by the voters, it is more than likely that additional appropriations will be presented in future town referendums for the voters of Durham to decide.

In a scenario where question #1 is accepted but question #2 is not, the town will acquire Korn School and will be held fully responsible for its maintenance and or demolition. However, in the original RSD13 plan, Durham tax payers would only pay for two-thirds of the demolition costs as RSD13 is a regional district shared by the towns of Durham and Middlefield. So in the event that the town is held responsible for the demolition, Durham tax payers would have to pay for the raze without financial help from Middlefield.

If Durham votes in the negative to both questions, Korn School will be razed by RSD13.

Regardless, Durham tax payers will pay for either outcome.



Coginchaug Regional High School, April 24th, 2021.

Coginchaug Regional High School will be utilized as Durham’s polling place for this referendum, where the polls will open at 6:00 AM up until 8:00 PM.


All CRHS students will learn remotely during this voting process due to COVID-19 safety precautions.