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Stonington — The Board of Finance recommended Wednesday night that the town spend $1.2 million from its $11.7 million undesignated fund balance to replace the entire roof at Deans Mill School.
The request will be voted on by residents at an upcoming town meeting.
The Board of Education had originally asked the finance board to approve $569,000 to fix the five sections of the roof that are actively leaking. But finance board members said it makes more sense to replace the entire roof now because all of it is wet, past its life expectancy and could soon start leaking.
"I just think we need to do this right," said finance board member Sandy Grimes.
As a large group of Deans Mill staff and parents stood at the back of the police station meeting room, Deans Mill School PTO president Dan Kelley thanked town and school officials for agreeing to fix the problem.
But Kelley said it was a problem that should never have happened.
That sentiment was echoed by finance board members.
"I want to know how we got here. This did not happen overnight," said finance board member Dudley Wheeler. "This should have been brought to our attention long before this."
Tarps now hang from leaky ceilings in the school to collect water and drain them through hoses into trash buckets.
Roof sections over the cafeteria, gym, library, office and a classroom are in the worst condition.
The project will also add a pitch to the flat roof so water flows off of it. Drains and scuppers will also be added. The roof over the library could be replaced during April vacation with the majority of the work done this summer.
Approval of the $1.2 million will not increase the tax rate because it will be taken from undesignated fund balance, which exists to help the town deal with emergencies.
School officials have done a study of the roof system and received estimates from three roofing firms in developing the cost projections.