Additional money to remove PCBs at Riverfield School was approved Monday by the Representative Town Meeting, bringing total cost of the renovation/expansion project at the Mill Plain Road school to $16.3 million.

The Riverfield Building Committee originally requested, and received, $14.4 million for the additions and renovations at the elementary school. However, high levels of PCBs in three walls in the school gym were discovered, and federal regulations require the PCBs be removed.

According to the building committee, since the PCBs need to be removed, either now or in the future, it makes more sense to do it now while the rest of the renovations are taking place.

"Obviously, the additional expense comes as a surprise," said RTM member Thomas McCarthy, R-8. He said he views the Environmental Protection Agency regulations requiring removal of PCBs, instead of encapsulation, as a "game changer."

Going forward with other school building projects, McCarthy said, the town will have to change the way it estimates costs in the event PCBs are found.

Chris Tymniak, R-9, said he was pleased the RTM approved the additional funding. "It's a priority that government provide a safe facility for our kids to learn in," he said.

And RTM member Kathy Braun, R-8, agreed it makes more sense to do the work now.

The Riverfield project includes construction of seven full-size classrooms to replace portables and interior classrooms in the "pod," an additional serving line in the cafeteria, and expanded gym and renovation of administrative office space.

Construction is expected to be finished by January 2016.