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    Thursday, July 25, 2024

    Lyme-Old Lyme, Preston schools to receive HVAC upgrade grants

    Schools in Preston and the Lyme-Old Lyme school districts will receive grants to upgrade their heating and ventilation systems through a state program created last year using a combination of state and federal funds.

    Gov. Ned Lamont announced $56 million in grant awards to 49 schools Wednesday, including $6.2 million for Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School, $3.05 million for Lyme Consolidated School, $2.7 million for Center School and $55,208 to Preston Veterans’ Memorial School.

    In Lyme-Old Lyme, the HVAC work comprises the bulk of planned upgrades to four of the district’s five buildings. Voters in November authorized spending up to $57.5 million on the project.

    “Right there, that will take $12 million off the top of that,” Lyme-Old Lyme district Superintendent Ian Neviaser said.

    Estimates prepared by the Old Lyme Finance Department and the Lyme Board of Finance at the time of the referendum to approve the work showed a potential tax increase for property owners over the next 25 years. It estimated an increase of $112.43 per year in Old Lyme for every $70,000 of assessed value, and $87.71 per year per $70,000 assessed in Lyme.

    Neviaser did not have an updated figure Wednesday to illustrate how much the grant will save individual taxpayers in Old Lyme and Lyme, but said it represents “a big chunk of money.”

    “It will certainly help offset some of the cost of our project for the community, so we’re very happy with the end result of that,” he said.

    The project also includes HVAC upgrades plus nine new classrooms at Mile Creek School. Neviaser said the district is on the “priority list” for a separate state grant for the Mile Creek School renovations. He estimated the grant could take another $9.8 million off the total project cost.

    Preston Superintendent Roy Seitsinger said when the state Department of Administrative Services announced the HVAC grant last fall with a “short turnaround” for applications, Preston took the opportunity to apply for funds to update and replace air controls at Preston Veterans’ Memorial School. The $55,308 grant will pay for 61% of the $89,872 total project cost.

    “Preston is committed to being as diligent and proactive as possible in addressing grant opportunities,” Seitsinger said in an email to The Day. “We appreciate the efforts of the governor to disperse this limited funding to support creating quality learning environments for our students and the entire learning community.

    The $56 million announced Wednesday represented the first round of funding through the newly created HVAC Indoor Air Quality Grants Program for Public Schools, funded with $75 million in state bonded money and $75 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

    c.bessette@theday.com

    Day Staff Writer Elizabeth Regan contributed to this report.

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