Ledyard school consolidation, renovations plan moves forward

Ledyard The Finance Committee on Wednesday voted in favor of asking bond counsel to prepare documentation for a school renovation project, keeping the town on track for a January 2015 referendum.

The project, said Superintendent Cathy Patterson, would consolidate two elementary schools: Ledyard Center School and Gallup Hill School. The district plans to close Ledyard Center School, which would be difficult to update, and to renovate Gallup Hill School as new.

Patterson said the district plans to move the sixth grade into Ledyard Middle School, which it also hopes to renovate as new.

According to estimates from architecture firm Silver Petrucelli and Associates, the renovation of Gallup Hill would cost $28,612,104, while the renovation of the middle school would cost $35,652,092.

On Wednesday, the Finance Committee voted to recommend that the Town Council ask Day Pitney Bond Counsel to prepare authorization documents in those amounts. They also expect the bond counsel to draft language for the January referendum.

Because of state reimbursement, the town's share of the cost is likely to be much less than the total construction cost. Patterson said the anticipated cost of the Ledyard Middle School project is $13,369,534, while she expects Gallup Hill to cost $10,729,539. That makes an anticipated combined cost of approximately $24.1 million for both projects.

Patterson said she expects the consolidated elementary school to result in a yearly savings of $30,000 in maintenance and $40,000 in energy. She also projected a payroll savings of $180,000.

Mayor John Rodolico said Wednesday that he wants to put together a chart with information on how the cost will affect taxes, how it will be distributed over five or six years, the town's current debt and the expected savings from the school project. He believes the data will help answer questions from concerned residents as the town approaches a referendum.

"You know that's going to be a question: How is this going to affect my taxes?" said Rodolico. "The vast majority are just going to be paying the bill. They're not going to be sending their kids to the school."

The plans for both renovations, said Patterson, include more windows and ambient light, security upgrades, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, separate parent drop-off areas, full-size gyms, auditoriums and kitchens.

A generator, showers and a kitchen also would be added to the middle school, allowing it to serve as a community shelter during emergencies.

The superintendent said she and the architect will present the projects during information nights at the schools, allowing parents to learn about the plans and give feedback. She also will give tours of the schools to point out features that need improvement.

k.catalfamo@theday.com

Twitter: @kccatalfamo

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