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School Board Delays Vote on Fairfield Ludlowe High Expansion 'Ed Specs'

The discussion will be picked up at the next regular meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 26.

The Board of Education delayed the vote on educational specifications for the Fairfield Ludlowe High School expansion project Tuesday prior to the adoption of the 2013-14 budget.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Title told the board that the proposed project would cost between $8 million and $23 million -- $8 million to expand the school and replace the windows and $23 million to address additional building deficiencies.  

The minimum work that must be done is expand the cafeteria, add classroom space, and replace the windows energy-efficient units, Title said.

If approved by all town bodies, two science labs would be built on top of the expanded cafeteria. Another four general purpose classrooms would be added to the high school.

The school will need the extra space as student enrollment is currently 10.8 percent over its 1,400-student design capacity and is projected to be 22.7 percent over the capacity by the 2016-2017 school year, according to the educational specifications and project outline drafted for the board.

The full, $23 million plan includes the work above plus the replacement of the roof, relocation of the teachers lounge to free up additional classroom space, relocation/enhancement of the senior lounge, renovation of student lavatories, and the addition of lockers.

"We have to decide what level of ed specs we want to forward to the town," Title said.

Board member Sue Brand said she has never seen project options go before the board like this.

"We don't try to do what a building committee does, and this is what that is," she said, referring to the proposed project outline distributed to the board.

Paul Fattibene moved to postpone the vote.

"There's a space need we have to address, but the more pressing issue is with the budget right now," he said. "Expansion is required, but the project can be impacted by our budget decision."

But board member Perry Liu said he felt the board needed to have the conversation, and it was "apropos" that it was on the same agenda as the budget vote.

"We're talking about adding $8 to $23 million to a building while also talking about cutting programs...this is a fault of not dealing with population," he said.

"The board has not had a real conversation."

With the vote to postpone -- which turned out to be unanimous -- the conversation will be continued at the school board's next regular meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the Board of Education Conference Room (501 Kings Highway East).

momof3 January 31, 2013 at 12:49 PM
I don't know about what changes need to be made to the senior lounge, but there are definitely space issues at both high schools that need to be addressed. Enrollment is growing, and we need classrooms for these kids! Science labs should not be delivered from a cart. While, I don't know if the whole renovation needs to be done now, I would hope that town bodies give careful consideration to the HVAC system at Ludlowe. Goldilocks comes to mind. It is either too hot, too cold, but rarely just right. Wonder how much more Fairfield parents are spending on water and laundry detergent? Kids need to dress in layers. A tank top for one class room, a sweater for another. Aside from being a health issue, have to think that the changes in heat/humidity might not be too good for building materials (paint, insulation, tiles, etc.)
Joeseph Biff January 31, 2013 at 12:57 PM
Everyone has different "comfort" levels as far as room temp.is concerned,so you can't make everyone comfy and happy all the time.Set a median temp. and be done with it.Kids should dress accordingly as seasons change.I see young boys walking to schoo lin the middle of winter wearing shorts and a Tee- shirt,no coat.What's up with parents that condone that?Tanks tops should not be part of public school attire.
momof3 January 31, 2013 at 01:48 PM
I think the problem is that they set a median temp, but it doesn't seem to stay at that temp. Hey, I just think it should be looked at a little more closely and not just disregarded. I was only half kidding about the laundry--just trying to make the point that you while you can dress for season change, it can be challenging to dress for the varying temps at FLHS. Of course, I think replacing the roof just moved ahead on the too list, as I just heard part of it blew off in last night's storm. Just goes to prove that the longer maintenance projects are put off, the more problems they could potentially cause. Now that the BOE approved the budget, I hope they get a proposal to other town bodies regarding Ludlowe ASAP. Clearly, it is a building that needs attention sooner rather than later.
Jenn B January 31, 2013 at 03:40 PM
There are serious issues at FLHS - the windows need to be replaced. The PCBs at Osbourne Hill completely quieted down the FACT that the same issue exists at the High School. There are rooms where the teachers cannot open the windows because the caulk is breaking down and releasing toxic dust. The heating/cooling = Mold. The larger issue, as a taxpaying parent, is that nothing gets done when it should get done. Maintenance that seems unnecessary when compared to PCB remediation becomes a roof collapse which is what happened today closing the school. The roof collapsed. So, yes, let us sit and debate the merits of minor improvements to the Senior Lounge and all get angry over changes that when made at the same time as other necessary construction will be minimal while our high school literally falls to pieces. I cannot stress this enough -- the real problem is the builders who are coming into Fairfield and putting up multi-family housing where one home used Bringing in 6-10 children on a plot of land where 1-3 used to live and decreasing the taxes paid by that plot of land. Our schools need construction and not just maintenance because too many families are moving into this area in a very short period of time. Holland Hill was one of the smallest schools last year and this year it is 50 children OVER its limits and 20 of them have moved in just this school year. There is a bigger problem and it begins with Planning and Zoning.
momof3 January 31, 2013 at 04:43 PM
Jenn--you bring up a great point about Planning and Zoning. When these discussion happen, the BOE gets blasted for the costs of education/school maintenance. Meanwhile, the town does have a hand in increased enrollment and the problems our schools our facing. Let's hope the town steps up and is part of the solution. As far as FLHS, this leaking roof is already causing big problems--hear from students that tiles are falling off in cafeteria. Ceilings damaged. PCBs are absolutely an issue, downplayed because kids are older and less likely to be touching windows (as compared to elementary schoolers). I know Riverfield needs renovations too, but I almost wonder if FLHS needs to be addressed first as it is literally falling apart at the seams.
Fairfield Old Timer January 31, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Suggestion: Bus the overflow of students to Andrew Warde HS.
Fairfield Old Timer January 31, 2013 at 04:50 PM
"Wonder how much more Fairfield parents are spending on water and laundry detergent? Kids need to dress in layers. A tank top for one class room, a sweater for another. " 1st World probelms. Boo Freaking Hoo............. LOL.
Fairfield Old Timer January 31, 2013 at 04:52 PM
".....releasing toxic dust." "The heating/cooling = Mold" Oh Please!!! Give it a rest Chicken Little.
Jenn B January 31, 2013 at 04:53 PM
I'm not the head master nor the superintendent but I imagine that moving a set number of students that all take differing levels of math, science, english, government, languages and electives would pose a bit of a difficulty (what I mean to say is that unlike elementary schools, the classes are not made up of the same students each period of the day - they would have to move an entire "house" and I don't know that there is room for that...Wonder). But I applaud your thinking outside of the box. Sincerely.
Jenn B January 31, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Thank you Momof3, I have been watching this battle over FLHS for 2.5 years now once I learned of the PCB issue. Please bear in mind that there is a preschool at ludllowe and while the windows in the actual preschool appear to be okay (not that they have actually tested them...), students come in from all over the school to the preschool classroom and the PCB dust is airborn (students/teachers/staff carry it on their clothing, book bags, hair...and they get on the floor and love and cuddle the 3 and 4 year olds). I believe FLHS should be a priority for a plethera of reasons. I hope more taxpayers in Fairfield can see the connection to the Zoning Laws and begin to push for necessary changes or I fear our beautiful little town filled with amazing and considerate people will be over-run by outlandish expenses that are necessary for the health and safety of well over 10,000 children. A number that has doubled in under 10 years due, I beleive, to unchecked Zoning Regulations.
Igor January 31, 2013 at 05:00 PM
momof3. I work in a factory. Guess what? The temps differ there also. So I add or remove a layer. It's not a perfect world and I don't think we are doing the children a service by letting them think it is. They need to learn to adjust in all walks of life.
Jenn B January 31, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Joseph, there are sane and concerned parents who see these rising costs and are growing in concern. We are concerned for our abilities to pay the taxes but also the health and wellbeing of our children. It is a delicate balance but I truly believe that there is more to this then a mere education budget or maintenance to buildings. Did you know that the town used to care of the school buildings...and when the expenses for doing that got too high they passed it to the Board of Ed. That coupled with the doubling of student enrollment has the BOE budget looking monsterous. Please take a moment to research the back stories that are at play here before coming out in anger. There are real health risks to the children at FLHS and construction is needed to meet not only the increased enrollment but the failing internal systems. Nearly 75% of our 17 schools are busting at the seams due to the unreal increase in enrollment...Perhaps we need to look at why so many families are moving here and why the taxes collected are not able to meet the needs.
momof3 January 31, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Hey, I was only trying to lighten the mood a little about the laundry comment and dressing in layers. Let's take the comfort of our students out of the picture (although I venture to guess that comfortable kids pay attention and learn more than uncomfortable kids.) Let's just look at the potential damage an improper heating system can do. Humidity does contribute to mold. Humidity/Excessive heat can damage equipment (which we will then need to replace.) And what about energy costs, does it cost more to run an inefficient HVAC system? And do you think it is saving us money to have teachers open windows in the winter? Unlike in the warmer months, that hot air they are letting out, is air we PAID to have heated.
Jim Eastwood January 31, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Hey Here we go AGAIN !! Remeber the last Fiasco?????? We had Two High schools Put Money into both, Then Closed One !!!!!, Then reopened the SECOND !!!! after alot of $$$$$$$ into both. Hey Dr Title and the 2 to 5 set , you WERE NOT AROUND !! but we and you are paying for this Mis Management !!!! What are we Going to do--AGAIN ???? STOP and Think !!! And Stop being those Properous, Pampered, Parinoid Parents !!!!! I hope some one reconsiders what is Really going on in this Town !!! Havea Great Day(and PAY AND PAY your Taxes !!!)
Wine Gal January 31, 2013 at 05:42 PM
I agree with the other commenter that this begins with TPZ. You cannot knock down a cute bungalow that housed 1-2 kids and replace it with a much larger home that now accommodates 4+ kids. Even with the increased taxes, it is not covering the cost to expand our schools. I would also like to remind people that for decades our town did not do maintenance that was necessary to our schools. We are paying for that now. A little problem becomes a much bigger problem if it isn't handled in a timely manner. Additionally, Flatto did our town a great disservice by relying on some bs population estimates, even when was clear our town's population of children was increasing, not decreasing.
AMS January 31, 2013 at 05:46 PM
Today the roof caved in at FLHS. My daughter was in the gym until the emergency dismissal at 10:15. This was a result of not just bad weather but bad planning. No one wants to spend money on the basic infrastructure of our schools. This is why a zero percent tax increase is impossible, we are playing catch up from cutting corners on every project we do in this town. It sickens me to look at Burr School with a it's "pretty" curves and then walk into our High Schools that are literally crumbling. When we had money we did a stupid job investing it. Now we are all taxed out and a school roof caved in, the windows don't open and god knows what else. Senior Lounge? Get rid of it and recapture it for the needed space. And don't start crying Warde has one its not fair, then close Warde's Senior Lounge. We are broke. And yes this does impact my daughters, having a senior lounge won't get her into college, but a healthy safe building will keep her out of the hospital. Get your priorities straight. And all you no tax people, instead of championing the unrealistic, back smart infrastructure improvements that will save us money in the long run. Back in the day someone cut corners and forced your taxes up TODAY, don't do the same thing to me please, and in return, I will take less "enhancements" like the senior lounge.
Wine Gal January 31, 2013 at 05:47 PM
You are fond of the exclamation point aren't you? Not sure if you attended Fairfield public schools years ago, but I am happy to tell you that my 4th, 6th and 8th graders can create a more cohesive sentence with proper spelling than you can. You can be assured that at least on the English side of things, money has been well spent on them. A properous, pampered parinoid (SIC) parent? Maybe I am. However, I think the investment our town makes in our children's education is one of the reasons many of us moved to Fairfield. Not that your disjointed diatribe is without merit. A more thoughtful approach to where our town's population is heading and how TPZ can encourage the right type of growth makes a lot of sense.
TLD January 31, 2013 at 05:59 PM
Amen to P&Z issue. Gov't bodies need to work collaboratively to examine issues to make sure decisions don't exacerbate problems. We're going to full-day kindergarten to eliminate bus expense, but adding new busing costs for a preschool being created to FABRICATE the illusion of racial balance to meet state mandates. Don't get me wrong - I'm ALL for the preschool - BUT ECONOMICALLY for the town overall, is this the best solution? The easiest? Or simply the only one within BOE's power? Maybe the town should address the economic disparity and provide more affordable options throughout town for seniors, young families, single parents. Whenever one department brings us a step forward, another department (local, state or federal) pushes us 2 steps back. Just because you can squeeze a bunch of houses on a plot of land doesn't mean that we should. Developer gets rich, schools get overcrowded, taxpayers pay the price. We put off maintenance projects to keep buildings safe - to the point of today's roof issue @ LHS - but approve over-the-top project features such as copper roofs, curved walls and floor to ceiling glass. Build rectangular brick buildings and focus on function over form! The best intentions can backfire in a way that was never considered. Fairfield town bodies - stop pointing the fingers at each other and start working TOGETHER. Public - stop BLAMING each other so angrily. This is everyone's problem. Put forth IDEAS not insults!
R. Ludlowe January 31, 2013 at 06:35 PM
I've actually heard from multiple sources that the copper (FWMS) is a better longterm solution. Perhaps more expensive up front--but with the obvious lack of management of these properties perhaps it will be a better investment in the long run. I dont feel like a single decision is looked at through the lens of more than a BOE member's tenure. No one is projecting 10-20-30 years out on any of these major decisions.
momof3 January 31, 2013 at 07:06 PM
Mr. Eastwood, Do you remember what Fairfield looked like back when we only needed one high school? Downtown was depressed. Fairfield Dept. Store closed. Just a handful of restaurants. Mom and Pop stores struggling. Look at Fairfield now? Yes, we have more kids, more families who dictated needing to reopen FLHS, but we should be happy about that! Those families, those kids rejuvenated this town! Where before there was an empty factory, there is a Sportsplex. Thanks kids for those businesses and tax dollars! We should be celebrating what these kids bring to our town, not complaining that we have to pay to educate them in schools that aren't falling apart. I am a parent, but I am also a taxpayer. I expect my taxes to go towards things that strengthen this town, that bring businesses to this town. Good schools increase property values. Families and children are good for business. Paranoid, pampered? I respectfully disagree. Take a drive past FLHS--take a look at the roof, and then tell me that we shouldn't be having the discussion about putting money into renovation and maintaining that high school.
R. Ludlowe January 31, 2013 at 07:36 PM
great post, momof3. well said.
Joeseph Biff January 31, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Jenn B, If you think my statements are those of someone "coming out in anger",then you are not living in the real world. Please iIlustrate to me where you sense my "anger"? Maybe you're one of those "pampered and paranoid" parents Eastwood mentioned? Perhaps I didn't "frame" my words nicely enough for your overly sensitive grey matter. Anyway,sorry if I ruffled your feathers.You have a nice day.
Wine Gal January 31, 2013 at 07:59 PM
Well said AMS. The reason we have extensive repairs now is because for decades the town kicked the can down the road when it came to maintaining our school buildings.
Joeseph Biff January 31, 2013 at 08:09 PM
Jenn B,Simple solution to the caulk issue.Send our town maintenance workers to the Home Depot to buy some new caulk.Have them simply remove the old caulk and apply the new caulk.This is what most homeowners do.What's the big deal? Toxic dust from caulk?.......give me a break.I'm in the construction business.Quite frankly,you don't know you 're talking about when it comes to caulk.
Jim Eastwood January 31, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Good afternon Momof 3 When was that in the Late 80's ???? This Town depressed Ha !!! Look at the 60's the POPULATION was 15,000 over what it is now How Old is that scholl ??? How about maintance and being responsiblre to your employer--IE the Taxpayer !! How about the Penfield Pavilon ?????? How much there?? The Leaking Underground storage tanks last year Another 1 Millon $$$$ and on and on. Stop being a Prosperous , parinoid, parent and think about being pratical !!! Have a Great Day (and Continue to pay and pay !!!!!)
fairfield newcomer January 31, 2013 at 10:38 PM
Are you serious about the parents spending on water, detergent, and different clothes, how about having some respect for the people who help to pay the bills instead of the nasty sarcasm and if it's not sarcasm you need to have your head examined.
fairfield newcomer January 31, 2013 at 10:51 PM
You might also want to address people leaving Fairfield because of the taxes, in my case a single person who sold to a family with children, my property went from a paying taxes and not having any kids in the schools to a property that now has 3 kids @ $14,000+ per child, around $42,000.00 to educate these children, the town was ahead by about $10,000.00 when I lived there and it is now a $32,000.00 deficit, Fairifeld was to the better when I owned the property but the town ignores the reality of that fact.
Igor February 01, 2013 at 05:02 PM
I'm all for improvements and/or maintenance. I am not against spending money to give our children a better education. What don't like is the board of ed dictating how the money is spend. It seems like to never ends up where it's suppose to go and then they are back with their hands out again. There needs to be a better understanding of all the issues and alternatives from all points. Not just the parents but the citizens without children also. We all share this town. We can all proster or we can all go down with the ship. It's our choice.
momof3 February 01, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Ludlowe was built in 1949. It was renovated before it reopened as a high school in 2003. It is already over capacity. I am all for being practical. I am curious, though, what is your practical solution? It isn't as if there is room at Warde; there are space issue there as well.
LMT February 04, 2013 at 03:44 AM
Okay people, here's the situation as I see it at ludlowe. Window are opened in the middle of winter because its uncomfortably hot in some rooms and students cannot concentrate! Classroom climates are controlled down town! It each room had a thermostat that would help to not throw money out the window..literally! The school ventilation system has never worked properly resulting in increased sickness. The building is old, coupled with the fact that it has been added onto so many times and lets not forget that the lowest bidders get the contracts and therefore lots of things are not done correctly! The overcrowding is out of control and a serious safety issue. Serious Instructional time is lost due to teachers having to change classrooms which means extra set up time and students arriving to class late trying to make their way through the crowded, narrow halls. On another note, ask yourself about all the money wasted at central office, from the rental of the beautiful office space on kings hwy to all of the unnecessary highly paid administrative staff and the cell phones that tax payers pay for when some teachers don't have books needed to teach or proper technology.

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