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It’s only at the conceptual stage, but upgrades to the intermediate school and Sliney School could cost $120 million, combined.
That’s the determination of a feasibly study completed for the Board of Education (BOE) and presented April 25 by Silver/Petrucelli & Associates. The bottom line of $120 million is what the town would likely be spending after receiving maximum state reimbursements for each project.
The study determined it would cost $109 million to renovate Walsh Intermediate School (WIS), with Branford spending $97.43 million and the remainder reimbursed by the state. To fix Sliney, costs are estimated at $29 million, with Branford paying $23 million of the cost after state funding.
Renovation is recommended for the WIS building, rather than building new. Built in 1970 with an open classroom concept, WIS is considered too large a building for its current enrollment by state standards; and so getting state funding to replace the 240,000 square-foot school would be difficult, said Silver/Petrucelli principal David Stein.
Renovating Sliney School, built in 1928, is one option for the building, said Stein, while another idea would be to move the school into a renovated Branford Hills School building; at a cost of $32 million, with the town footing a $27 million bill after state reimbursement.
The state reimbursement numbers are subject to change, said Stein, in answering a question from Third Selectman Jamie Cosgrove, who was in the audience during the meeting. Stein agreed with Cosgrove’s assessment that the state reimbursement figures being offered by Silver/Petrucelli were based on the firm’s experience with similar projects.
“Those numbers don’t get shaken out until after the project is done,” said Stein. “You don’t know until after the audit what your final reconciliation will be.”
BOE member Michael Kraus said the presentation on WIS included many recommendations the BOE had considered in 2001 and 2002 , but at the time, “…the town was not interested whatsoever” in the project,
Saying the costs for the project “…are basically doubled now,” Krause said, “…we sure don’t want to be waiting another 11 years, because who knows what this figure will look like.”
BOE Chairman Frank Carrano said the town can’t continue to “…just patch things up,” adding, “…it’s a very serious issue that we’re all going to have to wrap our arms around, and think about very carefully.”