The estimated $2.2 million replacement of the roof at South School is driving the superintendent of schools’ overall $4.1 million capital request for next fiscal year.
The project had been scheduled three years ago, yet the Board of Finance at the time asked whether the district could defer it, “so we did,” according to the Dr. Bryan Luizzi.
“We really feel you cannot defer it any more,” he told members of the Board of Education during their regular meeting Monday night, in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School. “We are spending a lot of time with rain problems after storms and water incursion is an issue. And so we need to keep up with it, or other problems happen and we want to avoid those.”
The comments came as Luizzi proposed an approximately $92 million operating budget for fiscal year 2020, a 2.55 percent increase over current spending. The Board of Ed is to vote on the proposed budgets next week, at which point it goes to municipal bodies for discussion and approval, with a final vote in April.
The South School roof replacement should be able to get done in a single summer starting when school lets out, Luizzi said. Plans call for the roofs at East and then West School to be replaced in consecutive summers starting next year, he said.
Responding to a request from Board of Ed Chair Brendan Hayes for background on the project, Luizzi said the South School roof has been on for 20 years “and these are 20-year roofs.”
“So it has started to fail in some locations,” he said. “What happens just to speak to South directly and we have had an awful lot of rain this year. So we do wind up with water coming in through the ceiling and seeing tiles and buckets catch the water as it comes through. We always check it afterwards and we keep a good eye on things to make sure that the air quality is what it needs to be and what have you. But the water incursion is the issue. What we are looking to do is put on 30-year roofs, so it costs a little more upfront but it’s much more economical in the long run.
Facilities work accounts for about $3.3 million of the Board of Ed’s overall capital budget request, with an additional $150,000 to replace three special education transportation vehicles, and $619,000 for technology leases that give the district wide purchasing power to maintain and update the network as well as computers, smart boards, projectors and other equipment.
Within Luizzi’s proposed budget, the district also is seeking $85,000 for each elementary school to address problems that arise when air comes into classrooms from the gyms and adjacent corridors and overloads their unit ventilators that run air conditioning and heating.
“What we found can happen—especially in rainy, hot, muggy temperatures—is the other outside air that is getting in, specially through the corridors and the gym, coming into the classrooms and creating overload on those unit ventilators,” he said. “And they [the unit ventilators] are not air conditioning the air that is there—they are not tempering it and they are not redoing the humidity that is in there—so it has become a problem. So what we are looking to do at each of the elementary schools is to put a system in to air condition the gym and to temper the air in the adjacent corridors so that the whole building can be covered and we can control the temperature and humidity and other things building-wide.”
Additional line items in Luizzi’s capital budget request include a main waste line replacement at Saxe Middle School ($100,000) and to relocate seats and overhaul the sound booth in the auditorium at New Canaan High School ($55,000).