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Board postpones vote on 'ed specs' for Ludlowe expansion

Published 6:41 pm, Wednesday, January 30, 2013
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The Board of Education has postponed a vote on education specifications for the proposed expansion of Fairfield Ludlowe High School to make room for a growing enrollment.

Board member Paul Fattibene at Tuesday's meeting made a motion to move the vote on the specifications for the project -- with an estimate of either $8 million or $23 million -- to the next regular meeting since discussion and possible vote on the superintendent's proposed 2013-14 budget was slated for later in the meeting.

"I'd be concerned with a decision tonight," he said.

Board member Perry Liu said he thought it would be "apropos" to talk about the specifications at that night's meeting, given the estimates given by Superintendent of Schools David Title at the meeting.

"This is a fault of not dealing with population," he said. "This board has not had a real conversation."

Nonetheless, the school board's vote on the motion to postpone was unanimous.

According to a draft specifications document discussed at its Jan. 15 meeting, the high school's current enrollment of 1,552 students is 10.8 percent over its existing capacity for 1,400 students. The enrollment is projected to be 22.7 percent over its 2016-17 capacity designed for 1,525 students with the number of students expected to reach 1,718 that year.

The higher designed capacity for 1,525 pupils reflects an enrollment increase as a result of the proposed addition outlined in the specifications.

The project, proposed in conjunction with the board's Long Range Facility Plan, consists of adding two science classrooms and labs and four general purpose classrooms, expanding the cafeteria and kitchen and moving the senior lounge. It also involves replacing the windows with energy-efficient units, renovating the student lavatories, adding lockers and replacing part of the roof installed in 1991.

At Tuesday's meeting, Title said expanding the school and replacing the windows would cost $8 million, while executing the entire project might cost as much as $23 million.

At the January meeting, Title said that the extra space and window replacement are critical at Ludlowe, while he considers the renovation of the student lavatories and roof replacement to be optional. The expansion would include placing two new science labs on top of the expanded cafeteria, he said.

The specifications were formulated following a request to the Board of Selectmen to set up a building committee for expanding the cafeteria and adding classroom space to address overcrowding. The initiative was made part of a recommendation in the plan to replace the school's windows.

The specifications also state other deficiencies that school officials do not intend to include in the recommendations so that an architect does not consider those items in its design plans.

The project does not address several building deficiencies identified in the "Fairfield Public Schools Facilities Plan 2011-2015," such as the need for mechanical fresh-air systems, more storage rooms and increased security measures, the documents state.

The board's next regular meeting is slated for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26, in Board of Education Central Office, 501 Kings Highway East.

mjuliano@bcnnew.com; 203-255-4561, ext. 112; twitter.com/mjulianoadv