Laurel Ledge project goes out to bid

BEACON FALLS — After a lengthy delay, officials have issued bid requests for the renovation project at Laurel Ledge School in Beacon Falls.

The bids went out late last week. The project, which officials were hoping to have started already, was significantly delayed due to a conflict between school officials and a consultant over the local review of the plans.

With the issue behind them, and the state approving the plans, the project is ready to move forward. The contracts are expected to be awarded in mid-July, Region 16 Superintendent of Schools Tim James said, with construction slated to start around July 21.

The work at Laurel Ledge is part of a three-pronged building project, which includes a new elementary school and district office in Prospect. In December 2011, voters in Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, approved bonding up to $47.5 million for the project. The district will be reimbursed by the state about 68 percent on eligible costs.

The crux of the Laurel Ledge project is building corridors to connect the buildings at the campus-style school. The work also includes renovating two bathrooms and construction of a new science room.

The bids sent out include ones for a handful of add alternates for the project, such as air conditioning for the gymnasium and new roofs, that are not included currently in the project. Officials are hoping that if the bids are favorable they will be able to do some if not all of the additional work. There is also the possibility that funds designated for the new school project, which is about $1.7 million under budget so far, could be used for the alternates.

With construction beginning next month, summer programs typically scheduled at Laurel Ledge will not be held there this year, James wrote in a letter to parents and staff of the school. Principal Regina Murzak and her secretary, Debi Oemcke, will also be temporarily relocated to Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls, he added. Telephone calls to Laurel Ledge will be electronically routed to them at Woodland.

There will be some business that will need to be conducted at the school over the summer. James wrote school officials are working with Turner Construction, the project manager, to put together a schedule for when it’s safe to use the main office area of the school.

“For all intents and purposes and for the safety of all, except for the access dates that will be posted soon, please consider Laurel Ledge School and the grounds an active construction site from June 30, 2014-Sept. 1, 2014,” James wrote.

School officials will also be sending information to neighbors of the school about the project. Exactly how construction will play out this summer — whether there will be two shifts working — will depend on the bids, James explained.

The work is expected to be finished in September of 2015, which means construction will be occurring while school is in session next year. School officials are putting together a plan to have extra adult supervision as well as a temporary security guard at the school during the project.

The plan includes extending the hours of the cafeteria aides at the school to provide extra supervision for children who need to go to the office or see the nurse.

At the Board of Education’s June 11 meeting, Director of Finance and Business Operations Pamela Mangini said this was decided to be best after discussions with Murzak.

The cost for the extra hours is estimated at $9,180, which Mangini said could be absorbed in the 2014-15 budget because there will be some positions temporarily vacant.

Mangini also presented a $39,893 estimate to hire a full-time security guard for the year. The estimate includes the cost of health benefits.

The guard is wanted for extra security to ensure student safety, manage traffic as well as other jobs.

Board member Robert Hiscox said the board wants to do what it can within the constraints of the budget.

“We’re being faced with a very unique situation for a year,” he said.

The board made no final decisions last week and asked Mangini to look at hiring a guard through a temporary agency or two part-time guards to avoid paying for benefits.