There are just five days remaining before Southington's voters are asked to decide whether to continue moving forward with the renovation of DePaolo Middle School and Kennedy Middle School and town officials have finished their trip to inform the public on the details of the project.
Do you have all the information you need to make an informed decision?
Voters overwhelmingly supported the project in November 2011, choosing more than 2 to 1 to move forward with the project, but as the Middle School Building Committee and architects began diving into the project, they discovered unexpected environmental hazards that pushed the project from $85 million to $89.725 million.
"The building committee had some complicated issues to work through and it involved minor modifications to the project," said Brian Goralski, chairman of the Board of Education. "The town has an opportunity now to see the project completed and done with less coming from the taxpayers wallets despite the added costs."
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School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi said it's now or never for the project, calling the vote, the first re-referendum in the town's history, the last one for this particular project.
"This is it, this is the last vote," Erardi said. "If the voters approve the referendum, then as of right now the last day of school is June 21 and the project would begin on June 22. If they don't, then the whole project is in jeopardy."
Take a look at the facts of the project and get acquainted with the project before you take to the polls on Tuesday, March 19 at Derynoski Elementary School:
Kennedy and DePaolo FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Why is the town conducting a second referendum? What will the additional funds pay for?
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) were discovered in various existing building materials resulting in an estimated $8.5 million cost to abate hazardous materials beyond the original budget.
- The additional funds will pay, in part, for hazardous materials abatement.
Why weren't the presence of PCBs known when the original project budgets were developed for the first referendum?
- Testing for and removal of PCBs has only been enforced in the last few years. PCB testing in schools in not typically done prior to project design and mandated environmental testing.
- The extent of PCB contamination can only be determined by extensive testing, including destructive testing. These tests were performed at the schools beginning in August 2012.
- There is no way to predict the level of contamination in a building. The middle schools were built within a few years of each other, but one is significantly more contaminated than the other due to choice of materials used by the builders.
Why is the referendum value $4.725 million?
- November 2012 construction estimates of $99.6 million exceeded the original referendum value of $85 million.
- The Building Committee carefully value engineered the projects, reducing the cost by approximately $9.9 million resulting in the current funding shortage of $4.725 million.
- The value engineering had no impact on the educational specifications approved by the Southington Board of Education.
Are the middle schools safe for the occupants now and during construction?
- Upon discovery of the PCBs, air testing was performed at both schools.
- Air test results show no PCBs in the air.
- Abatement will be conducted by licensed abatement contractors in accordance with the state Department of Public Health and Federal Environmental Agency (EPA) regulations.
- A detailed PCB remediation plan was submitted to the EPA in November. The EPA's approval of the plan is required prior to performing the abatement work.
Is the project on schedule? How does the additional abatement work impact the schedule?
- The project is currently on schedule to begin June 2013.
- Construction duration of approximately two years, beginning June 2013, is planned as originally proposed.
- An aggressive abatement schedule requiring double shifts for the summers of 2013 and 2014 will be implemented to maintain the two year plan.
Will all the PCBs be removed from the buildings?
- The current PCB remediation plan calls for leaving the PCB contaminated vapor barrier in the exterior walls.
- The vapor barrier is encapsulated in the exterior wall cavity between the exterior brick and interior cement block.
- The plan requires approval of the EPA, which is pending.
How much will the town have spent should the referendum fail requiring shelving of the project?
- Approximately $2.7 million.
Value Engineering Results:
- Original state reimbursement was 52.52 percent due to penalties for extra square footage, with value engineering resulting in reduced square footage, we can now take full advantage of the complete state reimbursement at 56.07 percent.
- The Board of Education's involvement in the Project Choice program (which currently has approximately 30 students enrolled at the elementary school level) will, at the time the project is completed, be in the middle school population and the state reimbursement for being a choice district range between and an additional 2 or 3 percent local reduction based on present practice.
- The shared balane for the town would have been $40.358 million. Now the town balance will be either $38.515 million and $39.412 million, depending on the 2 or 3 percent reimburment from the choice program.
- Even though the project cost has increased by $4.725 million, Southington's share has decreased by an expected range of $946,000 - $1.84 million.
- Editor's Note: The district has been involved in Project Choice for more than a decade but is only now eligible for the additional reimbursements due to changes in state legislation regarding Project Choice, according to documents made available by Erardi this week.
Original Referendum Question (Nov. 8, 2011):
"Shall the town of Southington appropriate $85 million for renovations, improvements and additions to DePaolo and Kennedy Middle Schools; and authorize the issue of bonds and notes not to exceed $85 million to finance the appropriation, the amount of such bonds and notes to be reduced by the amount of project grants received?"
Upcoming Referendum Question (March 19, 2013):
Ordinance increasing the appropriate and borrowing authorization for the 2011 DePaolo and Kennedy Middle Schools renovations, improvements and additions project by $4.725 million to $89.725 million.
Be it ordained:
(A) That the ordinance entitled "Ordinance Appropriating $85 million
for renovations, improvements and additions to DePaolo and Kennedy Middle Schools; and authorize the issue of bonds and notes not to exceed $85 million to finance the appropriation, the amount of such bonds and notes to be reduced by the amount of project grants received" adopted by the Town Council on July 25, 2011 and approved by the voters of the town at referendum on Nov. 8, 2011, is amended hereby; (1) to increase said $85 million appropriation by $4.725 million for an aggregate appropriation of EIGHTY-NINE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($89,725,000), (2) to increase the authorization of the issuance of $85,000,000 bonds, notes and temporary notes to finance said appropriation by $4,725,000, for an aggregate borrowing authorization of EIGHTY-NINE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($89,725,000); and (3) to determine that the estimated cost of such project is EIGHTY-NINE MILLION SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($89,725,000).