Fairfield BOS approves $3M to replace leaking Ludlowe Middle School roof ‘at the end of its life’

A line of buses dropping off students in 2013 at Roger Ludlowe Middle School.

A line of buses dropping off students in 2013 at Roger Ludlowe Middle School.

Meg Barone / Meg Barone

FAIRFIELD — School and town officials have pushed forward a middle school roof replacement project in an effort to confront what they said was a battle to keep things dry.

The Board of Selectmen approved nearly $3 million to replace the roof at Roger Ludlowe Middle School during a Monday meeting.

Angelus Papageorge, the executive director of operations for Fairfield Public Schools, said the $2.99 million project was originally scheduled in the district’s waterfall for next year, with McKinley Elementary School scheduled for this coming round in 2022.

“Due to concerns at Roger Ludlowe Middle School, we have swapped those two projects,” he said.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the spending, which will likely be bonded. The resolution still needs a stamp of approval by the Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting.

Papageorge said supply chain restraints means district officials feel a sense of urgency toward getting the project out to bid by the winter holidays, or risk not getting it done during summer break.

Board of Education Chairwoman Christine Vitale said the school board approved moving the project up in September because Papageorge had concerns about supply chain issues.

“We didn’t want to potential run the risk of putting it off two summers,” she said.

A small portion of the funding is allotted for design services for the partial roof replacements projects at Roger Sherman and McKinley Elementary Schools. The board also approved measures to assign the project to the Special Projects Standing Building Committee.

Papageorge said the current roof at the middle school is original to the 2003 building, and while it had a $30,000 partial renovation approximately nine years ago, it has been prioritized because of leaks throughout the past year.

“It’s become a constant fight to keep the building dry at this point,” he said. “We’ve done numerous repairs. I feel every time it rains, we’re out there doing repairs. It held up very well, but it’s been at the end of its life and, unfortunately, we don’t feel at this point it could make it that extra year.”

The district would be looking to receive a 20-year, no-cost warranty on the building, Papageorge said.

Selectman Thomas Flynn questioned if the costs might change because of supply chain issues.

“My concern here, quite frankly is, because I do this a lot with my clients in my professional career, is all these rates and materials and building supplies have all gone up dramatically in the last number of months due to supply chain issues,” Flynn said, going on to ask if the school district had taken that into account.

Papageorge said the district officials have spoken to design companies and roofing contractors, and have accounted for supply chain issues while coming up with the estimated cost. He said the estimate comes from several months ago, when supply costs were higher than they are now.

“We anticipate pricing will actually reduce before we go out to bid,” he said. “But we didn’t want to take that chance, so we kept the high escalator in there.”

In response to a question by Flynn, Papageorge said district officials are comfortable pushing back the McKinley roof replacement by a year.

“We believe we are okay there,” he said. “We have not had nearly as many concerns as we do at Roger Ludlowe at this point.”

joshua.labella@hearstmediact.com