Middle School Project Moves Toward a Final Vote

The referendum vote for a new $69 million North Haven Middle School will be held on June 17. Project supporters are hoping for a good voter turnout-and hoping voters will understand the likely lower final cost.

The renovations will include building a completely new classroom wing while still maintaining some other usable school facilities.

Building Committee Chair Gary Johns said, "A good portion, in the range of 30 to 40 percent, of the initial $69 million, will be reimbursed by the state and so...new improvements would cost the town between $45 and $50 million.

Johns added, "We are confident that the cost will fall between the range [First Selectman] Michael Freda has mentioned and know residents understand the importance of these renovations. We hope everyone will come out to vote 'Yes.'"

The cost was based on current data for school construction in the area and the size of the school based upon the program space requirements provided by the Board of Education and the state's space standards based on student population.

Town officials say this June 17 referendum vote is a very important step in moving forward with needed renovations and additions as well as determining the course of the middle school project.

On Tuesday, June 3, the Board of Selectmen will hold a town meeting to send the item to referendum on Tuesday, June 17.

Residents had recently voted to approve $199,250 in appropriations for what Freda has referred to as a "pre-referendum cost phase of the North Haven Middle School project."

The recent costs approved had included preliminary site tests, a phase-one site assessment, architect's fees, fire protection flow test, and sub-surface utility inspection.

The appropriation vote was unanimous, and architectural design plans are now being completed with a fast-approaching June 30 middle school design project plan submission deadline.

Johns said, "We are trying to inform residents about the proposed changes, the budget, and the impact the renewed school will have on the town by the June 17 vote."

Freda said, "I think everyone understands the need for this new middle school...and it's important for residents to understand there is a difference between the gross cost [the $69 million the town will vote on] and the net cost."

The net cost is defined by the reimbursable rate from the state. This middle school project will fall between the 30 percent renovation and 40 percent new construction rate as this project is submitted as a renovation with an addition.

According to a recent report by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, much of the school building and outside grounds is in need of repair or replacement as well as being notably below adequate standards.

Other building improvements needed included the auditorium, which has faced acute limitations in the past that has impaired various school assemblies, as well as some science room position issues.

The plans also include fixing handicap accessibility issues, upgrading of wiring, addressing loor safety and air-quality issues, and repairing ceiling and roof water-tile damage, lighting systems, and water-damaged areas throughout the school.

Broken or damaged lockers and inadequate bathroom facilities issues would also be repaired.

For more information, including the project history, design plans and floor layouts, visit www.nhmsproject.com.

For North Haven news coverage, contact Jaki Lauper at j.lauper@shorepublishing.com.


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