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East Windsor Town Meeting Sends Modular Classroom Proposal to Referendum

The $3.77 million plan would replace the aging, leased portable classrooms at Broad Brook Elementary School with more permanent modular structures.

 

Voters at a town meeting Wednesday sent the question of whether to spend $3.77 million to replace leased mobile classrooms at with modular classrooms.

The voters also chose to extend the hours at the polls on June 27 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Normally the polls at town hall and the town hall annex would open at noon.

Officials are proposing to replace the current portable classrooms with 14 new permanent modular classrooms. Ten of the classrooms will be in front and the four addition classrooms will be in the north courtyard area for the preschool, officials said.

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The modular classrooms have a useful life of 40-50 years, as opposed to the 20 years of the current portables, which the school system has had for 10 years. The portables were 10 years old when East Windsor schools acquired them.

Currently, the school system pays $7,738 per month for the eight portable classrooms at the school and at the end of the lease $287,000 for their removal.

The permanent modular classrooms qualify for the state’s School Building Assistance reimbursement program, officials said. With a bond interest rate of 2.79 percent over 20 years, a reimbursement rate of 56.79 percent, the system would pay $8,864.20 a month.

School officials said all of the construction costs can be absorbed within the current budget. The proposal will not cost taxpayers any more money because the additional $1,100 a month will be absorbed in the school system’s budget and should be offset by energy savings, Richard Labrie, of Futures Education, a consultant on the project, said.

To get the reimbursement from the state, the town has to submit an application by June 30, Labrie said. If the town doesn’t get the state funding, the bonds will not be issued, he said.

John Mannette, former board of finance chairman, told the meeting that while the concept of getting the modular classrooms is sound, town officials should consider the big picture of what will be done with the schools in the future before committing to the proposal. Mannette said the additional debt service could affect the town’s minimum budget requirement in the eyes of the state board of education.

“To do something like this to this magnitude is a band-aid,” Mannette said “We really don’t what we’re gong to do five years from now.”

Catherine Simonelli, a board of education member, said Broad Brook School needs the space now and the portables need to be replaced now. If this proposal doesn’t happen, school officials will have to find another way to address the problems and that likely will be a more expensive lease arrangement, she said.

Superintendent of Schools Theresa Kane said a facilities study of the school was recently done by the Capitol Region Education Council and officials are well aware of the issues in the building.

Kane said the proposal has been thoroughly looked at and officials felt with the state reimbursement available it was an opportunity to address the problems.

Jill Turner, president of the Broad Brook PTO, said her children attend the school and she is concerned that with the condition of the portable classrooms her children could one day be hurt.

Anti Taxes June 21, 2012 at 03:54 PM
I am now totally in favor of this since it won't cost me a cent in tax dollars. My question is, why do we even need to have a vote on this if it won't cost the taxpayers anything? Who would want to squash the idea?
Karen Staolone June 22, 2012 at 12:44 PM
I think there is an error in the stry. I thought the portables have gone past their recommended lifespan of 10 years and we had them or 20. I think they reversed that , but I'm not sure. I wouldn't want people to think we have another 10 years life on them. I know there were leaks and such. Misinformation usually squashes a lot of ideas in this town, i.e., rte 140 pipe years ago! Finally moved forward.
Larry Smith June 22, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Karen, The portables are 20 years old and the school system has been leasing them for 10 years. I'll put in a sentence to clarify that. Thanks for your input. Best, Larry Smith
Dan Starvish June 22, 2012 at 05:29 PM
What Larry said is right. They are 20 years old, we have had them for 10. We paid a lot of money to have used class rooms installed, and are now paying a lot of money to have them uninstalled. Thank fully, we will own them now. (Assuming the vote is yes)
N.Wandzy June 25, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Is this another half baked idea like when we ended up with those modulars before, not looking at the big picture, what is the towns long term plan? What are the other options? Will we ever look ahead, plan and prepare?

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