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School Board Moves Forward with $11.6M Fairfield Ludlowe Project

The project will next go to the Board of Selectmen.

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.

Ajack March 01, 2013 at 12:08 PM
That's right, keep supporting an educational system that is producing diminishing results. We keep trying to prop up an educational method with increasing tax revenues that is proving and will prove to be even more counterproductive in the long run to the needs of the people. People in our educational industry will continue to point at their 'successes' and continue to hide their failures, which is the case with education in this town as we know it today. Diminishing returns for increasing costs. The people of Fairfield and the rest of the country are so ingrained that this system works ,that it must work, that they can not see that it isn't working .....for anyone ...well anymore. We are throwing our money after bad if we keep thinking that what the Board of Education throws at you , the citizens , is the future . It is not. Increasingly, our school system has 'weeded' out the undesirable, using nefarious tactics , such as providing substandard care to those in most need of help.. Call it educational eugenics of a sort. Like our economic mess, which is a result of the have's, not wanting to play by rules that inhibit what they want in life, our educational system has become a method unto itself. It now serves more the rich and the educational ruling elite, the administrators. Not bad if it wasn't on the tax payers dime , which it is. But it is and the tax payers in this town are fed up with it and want change. The lie is that you get a great deal in this town. You don't
momof3 March 01, 2013 at 06:25 PM
@Ajack--this isn't about the educational system as much as it is about building that is in need of maintenance, It needs a new roof. It needs new windows. It needs updates to its bathrooms and HVAC systems. It needs space to accommodate the increasing number of kids who crowd is halls. If your home had these types of issues, wouldn't you address them? When will this town learn that putting off maintenance projects, or not doing them right in order save some money, only ends up costing more in the end? Make the investment now and do it right. Regardless of what you may feel about the BOE and central office, our kids deserve to go to school in a building that doesn't have a leaking roof and PCBs in the window caulking, They deserve to a science lab so that they may properly learn science. Please don't block this renovation because you have issues with central office or the BOE--it wouldn't be fair to the growing number of students that attend that school.
Joeseph Biff March 01, 2013 at 07:25 PM
momof3, You keep saying "when will this town",when in fact It is the very same mismanaged,inept, BOE that you're talking about which is to blame for the current situation.You make it sound as though the citizens themselves are to blame.You will most likely breath in some PCBs today.They are in more places than you think.Even in the food you eat.The amount the kids are exposed to in nill.This is plain old hysteria .Think of all the older homes,stores and variuos buildings you visit.
momof3 March 01, 2013 at 08:22 PM
Mr. Biff, Can't blame BOE for increased enrollment at both high schools. Ultimately, it will be other town bodies who will vote to approve funding for this project (or not). Citizens do have a say. If they support this renovation, they can let their RTM member know--just as they let their RTM member know when they want cuts made to the BOE budget or don't want money spent on schools. Also, the BOE does not oversee building projects. Town does. Other town officials made decisions about past renovations. You can't blame the current BOE for bad decisions regarding past school renovation problems. As far as PCBS--they were not used in building materials of residential homes. Yes, they are around us in the environment, but kids are more at risk than adults, and while we might be exposed to PCBs in the food we eat and the water we swim in; these kids are sitting in classrooms and are exposed daily. There is a difference--also the windows are old, not energy efficient. Many don't even open. Really no one is to blame for current situation, buildings age. People with kids move into town. Maybe past BOEs could have foreseen increase in enrollment, but all that would have done was increased the size of the last renovation.
Joeseph Biff March 02, 2013 at 12:40 PM
It is however up the BOE to approve or not approve proposed expansions,improvement,etc. before they can move on to other town bodies.Therefore,the BOE is the key player in getting the ball roliing as far as increased spending is concerned.I sight a recent article in the Fairfield Citizen News. A recent proposal was approved by the BOE by a vote of 7-1.If it had been voted down by the board however,that most likely would be the end of that. PCBs were used in fluorescent light fixtures(ballasts),and electrical components such as transformers .Many homes and buildings still have these components.Example:Your door bell operarates at a low voltage due to a transformer which is mounted near your elecrical service panel.I know this because I am a retired electrician.

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