The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday approved $4.2 million in bonding to cover the cost of new windows and doors at Osborn Hill School, as well as cleaning up PCB contamination at the school and renovating the gym, where some of the highest PCB levels were found.
The school board spent $820,000 over the summer to remediate PCBs -- a potential carcinogen -- discovered at the Stillson Road school so that it could open in time for this academic year. "That was money that we didn't budget for," Superintendent of Schools David Title told the selectmen. "We are actually coming to the end of the line. The library is opening to students this week and, other than the gym, the school will be fully operational as of Friday."
The PCB contamination was discovered last spring during testing prior to the window-replacement project.
First Selectman Michael Tetreau asked if, by including the PCB cleanup costs with the window and gym project, the town would be eligible for reimbursement from the state.
Title said it would be eligible, though it might require special legislation. "We expect this qualifies as an indoor air quality emergency, which is reimbursable," he said.
Tetreau also asked if, because of that, other grants might be available. Title said that could be explored.
The superintendent said school officials limited the scope of the cleanup project to what "we really needed to do."
The project calls for the gym, currently off limits to students and staff because of PCB contamination, to be entirely gutted and renovated. New clerestory windows would be added, replacing leak-prone skylights.
In addition, a covered walkway to the school's annex would be enclosed.
"There are code implications with enclosing the walkway," architect William Silver said, but he said the estimates for the project include the possible code requirements.
PCBs were first found in the caulking for the school's windows, but further testing found contamination in some of the paint used and some flooring. Air-borne PCBs were discovered in the gymnasium, which is believed to have been caused by spray-on fireproofing used when the gym was built on the school in 1968. If the fireproofing had not been used, an expensive sprinkler system would have had to have been installed in the gym.
The cleanup costs include a temporary gym now in use, decontamination of books in the library, specialized cleaning for two kindergarten classrooms, painting and school supplies.
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