Westport RTM approves $831,000 for school capital projects

WESTPORT – Town Meeting unanimously approved $831,000 for the school district’s 2022-2023 capital projects, which include assessments, demolitions and improvements at various schools.

Superintendent Thomas Scarice said the district worked with its consultants, Colliers, to prioritize facilities and list projects. He said the priorities are the mechanics that keep buildings operating at the right temperatures and climate, along with the “building envelopes,” which include roofs, doors, windows and floors.

Projects involving installations and millwork would come later as they are not priorities, he said.

The list includes 14 projects slated for the current fiscal year, all of which are up for bid, not those on hold, officials said.

The first project is to build envelope estimates, priced at $150,000. These estimates will not include Long Lots Elementary School or Coleytown Middle School, which are slated for reconstruction or renovation.

Those ratings will then be used by district consultants to determine projects at the other six schools for the next three to 15 years.

The funding will also cover the first phase of the security and accessibility assessment, which is $80,000.

The state’s School Safety Infrastructure Council standards have changed since the last assessment about eight years ago, Scarice said. The plan is to do this with four schools this year and four schools next year.

The third project involves studying the needed renovations of Coleytown Elementary School to help the district determine if the school should be renovated or rebuilt, similar to what is happening at Long Lots Elementary School. The study will cost $50,000. In the spring, architects determined there was an option for the school to be renovated rather than rebuilt, Scarice said.

The study will go through a state checklist that determines whether a building is suitable for renovation and then eligible for a state refund.

Some other projects include seeing if the HVAC equipment is working properly at Green’s Farms Elementary School and King’s Highway Elementary School, both costing $25,000 each; demolition of modular classrooms on King’s Highway for $45,000; doing a holistic mechanical system evaluation at Bedford High School for $75,000 and evaluating the auditorium stage rigging at Staples High School for nearly $85,500.

Scarice said the capital forecast originally started as a five-year plan, though it was stretched to 10 years.

“That was a big priority for us last year, was to capture the facilities, bring all the capital projects closer together,” he said.

Scarice said he recommended that the school board expand Colliers’ area of ‚Äč‚Äčexpertise to develop the plan and get feedback in March 2021 after analyzing the district’s capital plan and the resources to complete that plan.

“We have access to engineers, to architects, to people in industrial engineering and environmental engineering,” he said. “It’s been a real asset for our team to be able to pick up the phone and make much better decisions now with that resource there.”

Scarice said they will return to RTM for fiscal year 2024 with funding requests after the projects go out to bid, which will begin on July 1, 2023.

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