REGION 16 — With a certificate of occupancy in hand, Region 16 officials are preparing to move into the new district office.
The new office for the region, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, is the last and smallest piece of a three-part building project that included the new Prospect Elementary School and renovations to Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls. The new school is open and the work at Laurel Ledge is complete.
The one-floor, simplistic office sits where the former Algonquin School once stood on Coer Road in Prospect. Algonquin School, with the exception of the annex, was demolished to make way for the new 6,600-square-foot office. The annex will be used for storage and an office for maintenance staff.
The rooms in the new office were bare for the most part last week, but that was expected to change this week.
Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said the district received the certificate of occupancy for the office on March 31. Yamin said Michael Ceresa, director of facilities and maintenance, was expected to move into his new office this week. Once new desks come in, Yamin said, the food service, IT, curriculum and special education departments will follow.
After the 2016-17 budget is finalized in early May, Yamin said his office as well as the office of Director of Finance and Business Operations Pamela Mangini will be moved to the new location. The hope is to have everyone in the new office by June 1, he said.
The district currently rents office space on New Haven Road in Prospect. Yamin said the district pays about $60,000 a year in rent, money that will be saved once the district has completed the move into the new office.
The new office is simple in its design. There is just one hallway running down the middle of the office dividing the roughly 30 rooms, including offices, bathrooms, conference rooms and storage rooms.
The new office does offer a few amenities the district’s current office doesn’t, including a 700-square-foot meeting space that can be used for Board of Education meetings, professional development and training seminars.
“[The office] gives us fives building and pieces of properties that are in very good shape that are now going to set the stage for the future of this region,” Yamin said.
Setting the district up for the future didn’t come without some sacrifice and unexpected costs.
When voters approved bonding up to $47.5 million for the project in December 2011, the plan for the new office called for demolishing the two-story wing of Algonquin School and renovating the remaining part for the office. However, sticking with the original plan would have put the entire project significantly over budget due mostly to the extensive abatement that would be needed.
Last March, the school board voted to demolish the whole school and build a new office. Changing the scope of the project so drastically from what was approved at the referendum meant the board forfeited reimbursement from the state for the district office project. At the time of the vote, it was estimated that the board forfeited roughly $700,000 in reimbursement.
Additional PCBs and asbestos, which weren’t anticipated, were found during the demolition of Algonquin School that cost $1.2 million to remediate. The new office is estimated to cost about $3.78 million, or about $1.4 million more than what was budgeted at the time of the referendum, when it’s all said and done.
The budget for the entire project has fluctuated over the past several years. The final figures weren’t complete as of last week. Yamin said projections show the entire project will come in about $30,000 under the budget approved at the referendum.
Yamin said changing the scope of the district office project and “drilling down” costs allowed the project to finish within budget.
“I just think better management and attention to detail as well as exploring options throughout each project saved us money,” Yamin said.