The Board of Selectmen wanted answers on why the Fairfield Ludlowe High School building project ballooned from $11.6 million to a figure projected to be just under $15 million.

On Wednesday, they got an analysis from the Ludlowe building committee, but not the answers they were looking for.

"This is not an attempt to blame anybody," First Selectman Michael Tetreau said, "but we've got to understand what happened."

The project at the Unquowa Road school, taking place in three phases, includes replacing the roof, building a classroom addition, expanding the cafeteria, replacing windows and remediating PCBs.

While the building committee officials said the higher cost is attributable to several factors, including the fact that "soft" costs for architectural and testing fees were not included in the original conceptual plans, Tetreau said the report shows otherwise.

"There's one line with the overage and there's no breakout of it," he said, referring to the line item for new construction/renovation in phase two. While originally estimated at $3.6 million, that figure now stands at $5.9 million.

Because of that increase, the committee will have to come back for additional funding to complete the third phase -- replacing the school's windows and remediating the PCBs.

"This one line is driving the whole overage," Tetreau said. "It's literally that one line item."

At one point during the meeting, Tetreau expressed frustration that the committee was apparently unprepared to answer that question, particularly after the committee was told at a February selectmen's meeting what the board was looking for.

"We've asked for this information several times," the first selectman said.

Building committee members said the original estimate of $11.6 million, by Silver Petrucelli architects, was a conceptual estimate, while the $11.8 million estimate by Perkins Eastman was a design development estimate.

However, Tetreau noted that the two estimates were not far apart, and that doesn't explain the large increase in construction costs.

"That jumped by $3 million on day one," he said.

The first selectman also asked the committee when it received authorization to exceed the budgeted amount.

"The budget has not been exceeded at this point," said Marc Donald, the building committee chairman.

He said when it became clear the entire project could not be done within the initial budget, the committee went back to the Board of Education to get a change in the education specifications for the project.

"The goal was to do as much of the windows as possible" with the original funding. At this point, he said, the funding will allow the committee to do the first two phases, and the design and environmental testing for the window replacement.

"Given how these numbers have bounced around, it would raise my confidence factor" to see a breakout of the construction cost overage, Tetreau said.

He said he still expects the committee to provide a breakout with details on the projected higher costs.