School project’s fate to be decided today

This drawing by Fletcher Thompson Architects of Shelton shows how the courtyard and corridors could look at Laurel Ledge School following the planned renovations. CONTRIBUTED

Voters in Beacon Falls and Prospect will decide the fate of the proposed $46.7 million school building project in Region 16 today.

The polling places are open until 8 p.m. The voting place in Beacon Falls is Laurel Ledge School, 30 Highland Ave. In Prospect, voters can cast their ballot at the Volunteer Fire Department, 26 New Haven Road.

The referendum is on whether to authorize the school district to bond the $46.7 million for the project. Authorizing the issuance of bonds does not mean the district will spend the entire $46.7 million.

The project consists of building a new elementary school in Prospect to replace Community and Algonquin schools, major renovations to Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls, and converting Algonquin School into the new district office.

Under the proposal, a 85,630-square-foot, pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school will be built on a 49-acre site at 75 New Haven Road in Prospect, known as the Tallmadge Hill Road property.

This conceptual design by Fletcher Thompson Architects of Shelton shows what the proposed new elementary school in Prospect could look like. CONTRIBUTED

Plans for Laurel Ledge include building new corridors to connect all of the buildings at the campus-style school and renovating the bathrooms. One science and one music classroom along with two new bathrooms will also be added to the school as well.

The proposal also calls for renovations to Algonquin School to turn the school into the district’s new central office.

The two-story wing of Algonquin would be demolished and replaced with parking. The remaining portion will be renovated for office space with an all-purpose room for school and community events. The annex at the school would be saved for future use.

In total, the project is anticipated to cost $46.7 million. The state is expected to reimburse the district about 68 percent on the eligible costs of the project.

The largest cost of the project is the new school, which is estimated at $36.6 million. The renovations at Laurel Ledge are expected to cost $7.75 million. It’s estimated that turning Algonquin School into the district office will cost $2.4 million.

After the anticipated state reimbursement is factored in, Prospect and Beacon Falls will be left to pay roughly $19.7 million. The cost will be divided between the towns using the same ratio as the school budget with Prospect covering about 60 percent and Beacon Falls about 40 percent. Prospect’s share is estimated at $11.8 million, leaving Beacon Falls to pay for the remaining $7.9 million.

According to recent figures supplied to school officials by the board’s bond counsel, the project will cost taxpayers in both towns an additional $102 in taxes for every $100,000 in assessed value for each year over the 20-year bond. The figure is based on the current grand lists of both towns, and could fluctuate with changes in the grand lists over time.