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Osborn Hill Bills: $300K and Climbing

Superintendent of Schools Dr. David G. Title and Board of Education Chair Pamela Iacono updated the Board of Finance on the costs of testing and remediation of PCBs at the elementary school.

The bills have begun to roll in for the at -- to date, the district has north of $300,000 to pay.

That figure doesn't include the current remediation of the Library Media Center or the upcoming plans for the school's gymnasium,

Superintendent of Schools Dr. David G. Title and Board of Education Chair Pamela Iacono delivered the news to the Board of Finance Tuesday with this caveat: the estimate is still climbing.

"We don't know when it's going to end," Title said.

Title did add that opening the building on time did present a "big financial benefit" for the district. , Title said there would have been extra costs for additional buses and moving and utility costs for the two buildings.

The district expects to spend an additional $100,000 to $120,000 on a temporary gymnasium at Osborn Hill. The site plan for the portable gym was approved by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission last week; Title said officials will know within the next week or two what type of structure will be used and when it will be erected at the school.

Currently, students are spending physical education time outdoors on nice days and in the school's all-purpose room during inclement weather. Title said the all-purpose room is a very small space and won't work as a long-term alternative to the gym.

"It's just not a good situation at all," he said.

Finance board member Jim Brown asked whether the school's gymnasium can ever be used again.

"When will you know if we have to tear down the structure?"

Title said the district needs to come up with a remediation plan approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for the gym, which will include weighing the benefits and costs of all options.

"It will be at least a month to six weeks before we know much about that," Title said.

One component of the long-term remediation plan is to replace the school's windows -- the project that the district requested in the Fiscal Year 2013 Capital Improvement Plan, which lead to the testing for hazardous materials and discovery of elevated levels of PCBs in the school.

"So you're north of $420,000 and it has nothing to do with the bonded replacement of windows or the long-term remediation plan," Board of Finance Chair Tom Flynn recapped.

Finance board Vice Chair Rob Bellitto asked Title and Iacono how the district plans to pay for the invoices as they roll in.

The costs are currently being charged to the district's maintenance and consulting services accounts, Title said, but savings will soon have to be found elsewhere. It's too early to tell what parts of the education budget will take a hit to cover the expenses, according to Title.

"I don't know what the hit is going to be and I'm not looking forward to it," Title said

The town's contingency fund -- -- will not provide for these costs.

"We'll have to look for savings in both [the town's and school district's] budgets," former Chief Fiscal Officer Paul Hiller said. "The last place to go is the unassigned fund balance.

The district also hopes to hire an expert consultant to give advice and guidance on how to determine if PCBs are a problem at other schools in the district that were built around the same time as Osborn Hill School.

"It's likely we'll have to come back to ask for a special appropriation," Iacono said.

Fairfield Resident September 06, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Fairfield Tax Payers are hosed again over another non-issue.
Joeseph Biff September 06, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Another Fairfield school snafu.The taxpayers will be taking the "hit" in one form or another. North of $420,000? How far north are we going travel to clear up this mess?
JM September 06, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Hosed? Over a known carcinogen? Taxpayers taking the "hit"? Perhaps it would be better if the kindergarten students "took the hit" and inhaled PCBs. Yeah, that's a great idea.
KM September 06, 2012 at 10:01 PM
When you call this a "non-issue" you seem to be implying that overzealous parents or town officials insisted on closing areas of the school. It's not like the parents or anyone in the town government made the decision. It was an EPA decision made after standard testing done for a fairly minor renovation.
Jim Eastwood September 06, 2012 at 11:54 PM
To All Look at the Test results and what the experts are saying I can see this being driven to a new school being built. How did all of us survive the "Old " schools and remain happy. Please let this NOT become ANOTHER issue of Fairfield's Priviledged, pampered, paranoid parents. Have a Grerat day an get ready to pay and pay !!!
KM September 07, 2012 at 12:13 AM
I've spoken to many parents at the school and none that I've talked to seem to want a new school to be built. Many, like myself, understand that the PCB levels are fairly low. The EPA has a maximum level set and standard testing for window replacement brought the levels to everyone's attention. I'm not sure what prompted the window replacement, but I haven't heard any parents demanding that the school be closed or that the gym be replaced. I just want my kids to be in school.
Brian September 07, 2012 at 11:43 AM
@ Jim; maybe eye drops will help with this vision thing that afflicts you. School buildings are an investment. Like any investment, it needs regular maintenance. Although not a long time resident, I remember Fairfield having difficulties with schools during the period of contraction when schools were being closed (Grasmere and another on Kings Highway). I suspect PCB's work fairly slowly and "all of us" may have been afflicted and may not be as happy as you are Jim. If the situation existed in your workplace, would you remedy the situation? Or is it that unhealthy conditions are OK for (mostly) women and children? Are you really saying that? Use your spell check, please.
Fairfield Resident September 07, 2012 at 11:44 AM
O.K. Whatever you say...............Chicken Little.
Fairfield Resident September 07, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Exactly Jim. Thank you. Just like the supposed "mold" problem at Mckinley. OMG!!!! Tear Down the School!!!!
Joeseph Biff September 08, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Brian, You may want to bone up on your grammatical skills.In your third sentence you state "it needs" (singular) instead of they need (plural) .Just sayin' Brian.

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