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School Board Revises Its Capital Improvement Plan



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School Board Revises Its Capital Improvement Plan

By Eliza Hallabeck

The Board of Education approved revisions to its Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) during its meeting on Tuesday, August 16, and those revisions will go before the Board of Selectmen next for approval.

The total cost of projects in the five-year plan exceeds $16 million, and reflects what school board Vice Chair Debbie Leidlein, who also chairs the BOE’s Facilities Subcommittee, said are dramatic savings from the last version of the CIP. 

In the first year, 2012-13, of the plan, is $2.3 million for the replacement and upgrade of Hawley Elementary School’s boiler and electrical system replacement and $100,000 for engineering fees associated with renovating Newtown High School’s auditorium.

“We talked about changing the Hawley School project so that instead of having one boiler room and piping through the entire school, we would like the [1921] section as is, because that has the newer boiler and that is redundant, and we would change the boilers in the [1948] section to be cost-efficient, high efficiency, boilers,” said Ms Leidlein.

If something were to happen with one of the boilers, Ms Leidlein said, running the school, even on the most dismal of days, would be unaffected.

The design fees for the project will also go down for this current year due to the changes on the project, but is not reflected in the 2012 through 2017 CIP.

School district Facilities Director Gino Faiella said the old plan made in 2005 for the Hawley project has been “tossed out the window.” That plan, he continued, has been scaled down and redirected to looking at different types of air-conditioning.

“Instead of air-conditioning the entire facility, which was slated to be done,” said Mr Faiella, “we’re going more for getting energy efficiency with the boilers, upgrading the boilers, repiping, and getting an active ventilation system, which will temper the air somewhat.”

Where air-conditioning is required, split ductless systems will be used.

The entire Hawley Elementary School project is slated to happen in phases from 2012 to 2015 and will cost a total of $6.1 million.

Along with $2.2 million for the Hawley project’s ventilation work in the second year of the CIP, more than $1.3 million is slated for continued work on the high school auditorium.

In the 2014-15 year in the CIP, the last $1.6 million for the Hawley project is slated for the installation of limited air-conditioning, along with $600,000 for window replacement at Sandy Hook School and $630,000 for design fees associated with a climate control project at Newtown Middle School. Three new boilers for NMS were moved from the 2014-15 year in the CIP in favor of the design fees at the school and window work at Sandy Hook School. The boiler replacement would have cost more than $2 million in 2014-15, but that cost has now been moved to the 2015-16 year in the CIP.

Ms Leidlein said the move allows the school district an extra year to decide the future of the NMS, which has been the focus of discussion centered around closing a school if enrollment in the lower grades decreases as projected.

Window replacement work at Middle Gate Elementary School is also slated to occur in 2015-16 for $400,000.

In the final year of the CIP, 2016-17, more than $4.8 million is marked for heating and ventilation work at Newtown Middle School.

The school board unanimously voted to approve the newly revised CIP and send it on to the Board of Selectman. 

A PDF version of the revised CIP is available with this article online at www.newtownbee.com.

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