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.