The Board of Education approved educational specifications for the Fairfield Ludlowe High School expansion and upgrade project, which carries an estimated price tag of $11.6 million.
The approved "ed specs" include:
- Expansion of the cafeteria and the addition of two science labs and four general purpose classrooms to address increased enrollment: $3,809,750
- Replacement of windows with high efficiency units: $2,825,000
- Replacement of the roof, a portion of which was blown off during last month's windstorm, and which has surpassed its 15-year warranty by seven years: $2,640,000
The $11,630,700 total price also includes soft costs (like architectural and engineering fees) and funds for fixtures, furniture, and equipment. The spending -- if authorized by all town bodies -- would be spread out over a few years, Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Title said, because the project would take that long to be completed.
The board chose to hold off on the lavatory renovations, which would have cost about $1,175,000 and decided not to include the $8,630,775 to add air conditioning to the entire school.
The latter is not part of the district's long-range plan for Fairfield Ludlowe High School, but board members had requested the information after hearing about air quality complaints from teachers and parents.
There are some rooms on the second and third floors of the school that get uncomfortably hot during the first few weeks of school and again at the end of the school year, Fairfield Ludlowe High School Headmaster Greg Hatzis said.
Ludlowe PTA President Cathy Coyle added that there are times during the summer when teachers' hair "is plastered with sweat."
"They work through it, but it's not optimal."
The replacement of the windows should help ease the heat during the summer, Director of Operations Thomas Cullen said -- but a project to upgrade the HVAC system at the school could come in the future.
The proposed additional classrooms and expanded cafeteria will include air conditioning, which is required for new school additions, project architect Bill Silver said.
The board approved the ed specs in a 7-1 vote -- member Sue Brand was absent and Perry Liu opposed.
"I cannot vote for this. I think we need a new roof and we need to replace the windows, but adding space without exploring options -- I cannot vote for this," Liu said.
Both he and resident Suzanne Miska said the district needs to look into other options to address Ludlowe's increased enrollment concerns -- including redistricting -- before deciding to add on to the school.
Board Secretary Jessica Gerber told the board that the difference in the number of students next school year between Fairfield Ludlowe and Fairfield Warde high schools is 122 -- not enough to make sense of redistricting, she said.
Discussion of the project will continue at a future Board of Selectmen meeting -- the ed specs must be approved by the selectmen, the Board of Finance, and the Representative Town meeting before the funding is authorized.