Board awards contract for new office

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REGION 16 — The final piece of the Region 16 school building project is set to move ahead.

The Region 16 Board of Education, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, last week awarded the contract to build a new district office to A. Secondino & Son, Inc. of Branford for $1.49 million. The district currently rents office space at 207 New Haven Road in Prospect.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said the district received four bids to build the office and interviewed two companies. A. Secondino & Son’s bid was the lowest, he said. The highest bid came in at $2.3 million, he said.

The new office will be built at 30 Coer Road in Prospect, where Algonquin School currently stands. Algonquin School was closed when the school year ended in June. Elementary school students in Prospect will attend the new Prospect Elementary School in the fall.

Algonquin School, with the exception of the annex, will be demolished to make way for the new office. Standard Demolition Services of Trumbull was awarded a $660,000 contract for the demolition and abatement of the school. Abatement of the school is currently being done and is expected to be finished by the end of the month. Demolition will begin once the abatement work is finished.

Yamin said the hope is to start construction of the new office by the end of August. It’s expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The new office will be 6,600 square feet, Yamin said. It will have 14 offices and a 700-square-foot Board of Education room, he said.

The new office is the final, and smallest, piece of a building project that includes the new Prospect Elementary School and renovations to Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls. Voters in Region 16 approved bonding up to $47.5 million for the project in December 2011. The project’s budget is $46.7 million. The additional money is for the short-term interest and bond issuance cost.

With the contracts associated with the new office in place, Yamin said, the total project is set to come in within budget.

Yamin, who started last September at a time when the project was projected over budget, said he’s pleased all three phases will be done within the figure approved at the referendum. He added the project will bring stability to the region’s facilities.

Getting the project within budget didn’t come without some sacrifice. The school board voted earlier this year to forfeit state reimbursement on the new office in order to get the total project to come in on time and within budget. The district was expected to be reimbursed about 34 percent on eligible costs.

When the project was approved at the referendum, the plan for the new office called for demolishing a wing of Algonquin School and renovating the remaining part for the office. Sticking with the original office plan would have caused the entire project to go over budget, according to officials.

A scaled-down version of the original plan was also an option. However, officials said, the district would have been left with a building that would need extensive and expensive work down the road, including repairs to the roof.

The district couldn’t change the scope of the district office project without reapplying for reimbursement, which would have caused significant delays in the project. If the entire project isn’t finished by the end of December, the board will have to pay penalties to Turner Construction Company and Fletcher Thompson Architects, the firms overseeing the project, under the terms of contracts with the two firms.