East Windsor Superintendent of Schools Theresa Kane led a tour Tuesday morning for Board of Finance members to learn more about the proposed purchase of permanent modular classrooms at Broad Brook Elementary School.
Members of the tour were able to see the condition of the current portable modular classrooms, as well crowded conditions in other areas of the elementary school. The proposal is to replace the current modular, which has eight classrooms, with 14 new permanent modular classrooms. Ten of the classrooms will be in the front, where the current ones are located, and the four additional would be in the north courtyard area, officials said.
“This is not a luxury request,” Kane said of the additional classrooms. “We need the space.”
First Selectwoman Denise Menard, who also joined the tour, said the town meeting will be on June 20 and the referendum on June 27. The total cost of the project is estimated not to exceed $3,770,000.
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.
Board of Finance Chairman Jason Bowsza said the town’s building committee took a similar tour Monday night.
“Once people see it, they can’t help but understand the necessity of the project,” he said.
After he toured the school a few weeks ago, he suggested school officials host tours for the Board of Finance members and selectmen. Kane said they also will be making a presentation at the Senior Center on Thursday.
Marie DeSousa, a member of the Board of Finance, said it has been about five years since she was inside the school.
“There is a lot I wasn’t aware of,” she said, noting one closet that is being used as a space for occupational therapy. “From a learning perspective, I think this is something we need today.”
If the bond is approved, then a proposal would be sent to the state for the reimbursement assistance. The permanent modular would be built and ready for use for September 2013.
Kane said she has heard some concerns about whether enrollment is decreasing, but she said it is not and studies indicate enrollment will increase or remain flat. Currently the school has 530 students, and officials said projects are there would be 570 students in 2020.
The Broad Brook School was built in 1951 and opened in 1952. The current eight portable classrooms were added under a lease agreement in 2002, which expires in June 2012. This lease has been extended for one year. Richard Labrie, of Futures Education, a consultant on the project, said the units were more than 10 years old when first leased and are now in need of replacement.
In the past several years, the town has approved a new roof and a new heating system, so Labrie said the town has invested in the building. A new building project would be a longer-term project and much more expensive, he said.
He said this is a good time for the project, with interest rates low and construction rates competitive. The project, if approved by the voters, would go out to a public bid.