New London - The reason the six-year-old Science and Technology Magnet School is still an open project with outstanding state money owed to the city is because it's not finished.
The architect of the project said Thursday that Phase V of construction, which includes installing small wind turbines on the roof and louvered sunshades on the east- and south-facing windows, is expected to be completed by the end of the summer. A photovoltaic system - a series of panels that absorb energy from the sun and transform it into electrical energy - also will be installed on the roof.
Michael Sorano, senior project manager at Friar Associates of Farmington, said the final phase was delayed because in 2005, when the project first began, the price of steel was so expensive that not all the work could be done. The city has gone back to the state, which has paid 100 percent of the project's cost, on two occasions for modifications and cost adjustments.
During its construction, the cost of the building increased from an estimated $18.7 million to about $22.6 million, he said.
When the project is complete the state will release the 5 percent contingency it is holding, about $1.1 million, to the city.
The school, which opened in 2006 and was designed to be a "learning tool as well as a place to learn," has 322 students, about 45 percent of whom come from surrounding towns. The construction will not affect the school schedule, Sorano said.
During a meeting Tuesday, the City Council approved hiring a "commissioning agent" to go through the school to check all the operating systems. The $30,000 cost for the agent will come out of the construction budget.
While this commissioning study is required by the state, it was cut from the original budget, Sorano said. The study will begin when all the work is complete.
Superintendent of Schools Nicholas A. Fischer said the study was needed to address repeated problems with ventilation, heating and electrical systems.
Sorano acknowledged that there have been difficulties with some of the systems. He said, "it broke my heart" when he heard people say the building was falling apart.
The school is filled with energy efficient heating and cooling systems that interact with one another. The systems are monitored by a complex computer system. If one thing is not working, it can throw off the balance of the entire building, he said.
"The building is in excellent shape,'' Sorano said.
The final phase of the project should correct any deficiencies, he said.
In 2002, the city agreed to build a science and technology magnet high school at New London High School. While the state footed the bill for the construction, a combination of state and local funds support the operating budget.