Campus setting a thing of the past


New corridors at Laurel Ledge expected to be ready after winter break


Work on the new corridors at Laurel Ledge School in Beacon Falls continued in December. The new hallways are expected to be 90 percent complete and usable for students by the end of winter break. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Work on the new corridors at Laurel Ledge School in Beacon Falls continued in December. The new hallways are expected to be 90 percent complete and usable for students by the end of winter break. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — When Laurel Ledge School students return from holiday break they will no longer have to brave the elements to change classes or go to the main office.

The new corridors, which are a large component of the renovation and addition project at the elementary school, are scheduled to be nearly complete by the time winter break is finished Jan. 5.

“It’s a tight schedule, but everything’s going good,” said Bill Stowell, construction coordinator for the Laurel Ledge project and the new Prospect Elementary School.

Stowell said the corridors will be 90 percent finished by the time students come back to school. Although there will be finishing touches that need to get done, he said, students will be able to use the new hallways.

The corridors will completely enclose the former campus-style school.

“Now they don’t have to be out in the elements,” Stowell said.

The courtyard will remain blocked off, Stowell added.

Laurel Ledge Principal Regina Murzak said she can’t wait until the hallways are done so students and staff no longer have to deal with the weather. More importantly, she said, the enclosed school will provide a much safer environment for students.

Work at Laurel Ledge began in late July. Aside from the hallways, the new music and art rooms have been built and a classroom has been renovated for a new science lab —something the school hasn’t had before, Stowell said.

Two new bathrooms are also under construction and all the roofs at the school are weather-tight, he added.

After the break, work will focus on renovating each of the four pods at the school. Each pod will be renovated one at a time and students will use temporary classrooms set up in other parts of the school.

The first pod set to be renovated is the building with fourth-grade classrooms, Murzak said.

Stowell said it will take six to eight weeks to renovate each pod.

Throughout the project, Stowell said, student safety has been the first thing on everyone’s mind. He said officials are in constant talks with Beacon Falls Fire Marshal Eddie Rodriguez.

“The key is to make sure everyone is safe,” Stowell said.

Murzak said she couldn’t be happier with how the work is going and that Turner Construction, the construction manager for the project, is focused on safety. She said there have been no issues with the work disturbing the school day.

“I’m able to focus completely on instruction and the day-to-day running of the school,” Murzak said.

Renovating the pods is the last major part of the project, Stowell said. Once the pods are complete, mechanical work will be wrapped up. The project is scheduled to be complete by the start of the 2015-16 school year.

As construction continues at Laurel Ledge there are still some questions regarding alternates for the project that have to be answered. The largest alternate is $173,000 to add air conditioning in the gym at Laurel Ledge.

Whether alternates get done will depend on the cost of the new district office as the overall budget for the three-part building project is tight.

The work at Laurel Ledge, the new Prospect Elementary School and a new district office comprise the three-part building project in Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect.

The new school is coming in under budget while the work at Laurel Ledge is over budget. School officials have pointed to a delay in the local review process for the work at Laurel Ledge as a main factor in the budget overrun. The delay led to the district to go to bid on the new school and Laurel Ledge renovations separately.

Officials do not have firm numbers for the new district office project.

The current plan for the new office is demolishing Algonquin School in Prospect, except the annex, and building a new office on the site. However, the original scope of the project for the new office was to tear down one wing of Algonquin School and renovate the rest of the school for the new office.

The district is going out to bid on the demolition this month for the original razing plan since the scope change wasn’t reviewed by the state. Officials plan to use the bids to extrapolate what it will cost to tear down the entire school.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said a walkthrough for bidders is scheduled for Jan. 8 and bids are expected back by the end of January.