Laurel Ledge has a new look

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Laurel Ledge Elementary School Principal Regina Murzak, fourth from the right, cuts the ceremonial ribbon surrounded by local officials during a ceremony Tuesday night to mark the completion of a renovation project at the school in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Laurel Ledge Elementary School Principal Regina Murzak, fourth from the right, cuts the ceremonial ribbon surrounded by local officials during a ceremony Tuesday night to mark the completion of a renovation project at the school in Beacon Falls. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — The Laurel Ledge Elementary School of old is no more.

Region 16 and local officials cut the ribbon on the newly-renovated school on Highland Avenue during a ceremony Tuesday night.

“This is a wonderful facility, which will enable students to learn and expand their knowledge,” Region 16 Board of Education Vice Chair Priscilla Cretella said.

The work at Laurel Ledge is one part of a three-part building project in Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect. The project also includes the new Prospect Elementary School, which replaced Algonquin and Community schools in Prospect this school year, and a new district office in Prospect. Voters approved bonding up to $47.5 million for the project in December 2011.

“I thank the Board of Education, the building committee and you, the parents, that have supported these initiatives to make this a tremendous region,” Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said.

The crux of the work at Laurel Ledge was constructing corridors to connect the buildings at the former campus-style school. The six classroom pods have also been completely renovated, as well as the bathrooms in the kindergarten through third-grade pods. New art, music and science rooms were added on, and the entire school is now air conditioned.

The project added 10,597 square feet to the school, bringing Laurel Ledge to 55,363 square feet.

All that remains are punch-list items.

Laurel Ledge Principal Regina Murzak said the renovations took the safety of the children into account. Now that the building is enclosed, she added, instructional time has greatly increased.

“It’s just a top-notch facility that really has the kids’ learning at the forefront of every decision made,” Murzak said.

Murzak said the students love the new look and there is a greater sense of pride within the school.

Laurel Ledge Elementary School students Hailey Cronk, left, and Lidnsay Koliani, center, lead the crowd gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the school in Beacon Falls Tuesday night in the Pledge of Allegiance with the help of Region 16 Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Laurel Ledge Elementary School students Hailey Cronk, left, and Lidnsay Koliani, center, lead the crowd gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the school in Beacon Falls Tuesday night in the Pledge of Allegiance with the help of Region 16 Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“There’s just a sense of pride with it,” she said. “Everybody has a huge amount of pride in the entire facility.”

First Selectman Chris Bielik said a lot of people invested sweat equity in the renovations so that the students, including his son in a few of years, could reap the benefits.

“Thank you all for all of that effort and thank you all for coming out tonight to celebrate it,” Bielik said.

With the 87,481-square-foot Prospect Elementary School up and running, all that remains in the new 6,600-square-foot district office.

The office will be built at 30 Coer Road in Prospect, where Algonquin School stood. Algonquin School, with the exception of the annex, is being demolished to make way for the new office. Demolition was under way last week.

The office is expected to be complete by the end of the year, despite a delay in the start of demolition due to additional, unexpected remediation work that was needed.

Additional PCBs and asbestos were found in some of the walls, behind chalkboards and on piping that was buried in attic at Algonquin School. These containments were not included in a report done by Facility Support Services, a Hamden-based environmental and safety consulting engineering firm, Yamin previously said.

Yamin said the extra remediation work cost an additional $675,000, which put the entire project about $200,000 over budget, as of last week. Yamin said he anticipates the project will come in within budget when it’s all finished.