Stonington school board asks for $569,000 to fix leaky school roof

Stonington — The Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday night to recommend to the Board of Finance that the town spend $569,000 to immediately replace five badly leaking roof sections at Deans Mill School.

“It’s a lot of money, but it’s necessary,” said Superintendent of Schools Van Riley.

Roof sections over the cafeteria, gym, library, office and a classroom would be replaced.

Earlier this week, Deans Mill parents urged the board to appropriate money in the proposed 2014-15 budget to fix the leaky roof sections, which are several years past their projected life expectancy.

The school board, though, is asking the finance board to appropriate money from the town’s undesignated fund balance so work can begin immediately. The approximately $11 million fund exists to help the town deal with emergencies and retain a high bond rating, which allows it to borrow money for projects at low interest rates.

If the roof money was included in the proposed budget, funding would not be available until July 1. It would also cause an increase in the budget and tax rate.

The finance board is slated to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the police station to consider the request. Two finance board members toured the school this week, and school board Chairman Frank Todisco has discussed the problem with finance board Chairman John O’Brien.

Before Thursday night’s school board meeting, the board’s finance committee reviewed three options for fixing the roof before agreeing to recommend the full board approve the $569,000 plan.

While the cost to replace all the school’s roofs is $1.1 million, they agreed it would be best to ask the finance board for funding to replace the ones that are leaking and in need of immediate attention.

School officials did a detailed study of the roof system and received estimates from three roofing firms in developing the cost projections.

Committee members discussed whether they might be able to save money by doing the entire $1.1 million project at one time instead of spreading the cost out over a few years.

“I’d love to do it all now. But there’s a big difference between 1.1 million and half of that,” Riley said.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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