It was, they agreed, a lot of money, but after a long discussion the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday approved $11 million in bonding to replace the roof at Fairfield Warde High School.

The project, which would be done in phases over four years, actually involves replacing a complex of 56 different roofs at the school, Town Facilities Commission Chairman Al Kelly told the selectmen. He said it was decided to forgo state reimbursement because the town would have expend more money -- possibly up to $14 million -- and get little in return.

Fiscal Officer Paul Hiller said local officials haven't given up getting any state reimbursement, however. Rather than seek reimbursement through the state Department of Education, Hiller said the town's state delegation will be asked to check on the possibility of getting special legislation passed to win reimbursement of some of the $11 million.

"We're going to give it a shot," he said. First Selectman Michael Tetreau said the legislative option has been used in the past.

With a slew of new data on the roofs provided at the Wednesday meeting, Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey asked if it would possible to put a decision off until a special meeting. Tetreau said that special meeting would have to be held by Friday or it would miss the cut-off for the Board of Finance meeting next week.

"If we miss today, then we miss the Board of Finance, the RTM and the summer," Kelly said. "It's my fault we didn't get the documents into you before the meeting." He said it is critical that the funding get approved in order to get the work started this summer.

Former Board of Education member Sue Dow said she recalls a tour of the high school two years ago. "Two years ago it was needed, and it's just getting worse," she said. The tour was on a rainy day, and there were buckets all over the hallways, she said.

Dow said the water intrusions are causing health concerns for students and staff. "The longer you wait, the more chances there are for that toxic mold to rear its ugly head," she said.

Hiller said the existing roof was installed almost 21 years ago, and it had an expected life span of about 15 years. In a 12-month period there have been 185 leaks that the school has had to have fixed.

Thomas Cullen, director of operations for the Board of Education, said carpeting has been removed in several areas of the school, as well as water-logged ceiling panels. "We're responding," he said, "we are monitoring it."

"The roof has to be replaced," Vahey said, adding that while she was on a tour of Warde with her eighth-grade child a worker was up on a ladder replacing ceiling tiles. "This is clearly an ongoing issue in the school."

The first phase would replace the roof in the library, administrative wing, auditorium and cafeteria, while the second phase would cover the gym and locker rooms. Phase three would include Pequot House, Industrial Arts and the Early Childhood Education rooms. The last phase would replace the roofs on the Townsend and Fitz houses.