The district is moving from three middle schools to two middle schools for budgetary reasons. Groton currently does not have a middle school enrollment large enough to justify having three middle schools. Unfortunately, our largest middle school, Fitch Middle School, is also the oldest and the most in need of repair. Cutler and West Side Middle Schools will require minor modifications in order to be able to house the remaining students. This consolidation will result in an annual savings of approximately $2.7 million per year. These savings are already reflected in the 0% increase in the budget for the current and upcoming year.
In order to prepare Cutler and West Side to each receive half of the middle school students, modifications are required to take place between now and the start of school in September. Since December of last year, discussions have taken place on room utilization needs. With that defined, a plan was developed to meet the needs of the school with the least amount of modifications to the existing structure. Every effort was made to avoid modifications that were costly. For example, the glue in the ceiling at Cutler contains asbestos. It is not dangerous to be in the rooms, but removing the ceiling tiles requires a very expensive process mandated by the state. Therefore, modifications that require displacement of the ceiling tiles were minimized.
The following two attachments, one for Cutler and one for West Side, contain the most current layout plans as of February 10, 2012. An architect will create formal plans, but these are the current working documents that the Board of Education has reviewed and the architect will be given.
PLEASE NOTE: The modifications that are taking place in this consolidation are in no way the improvements needed to address code deficiencies or to extend the life of the facilities. Presently, the Board of Education and Town Council are engaged in discussions regarding the development of a long-term building plan for the schools. These modifications are designed to make these buildings available for the next few years until that construction is finished.
The architect is in the process of developing an estimated cost for the project. Costs will be minimized because the school district will use internal staff for much of the construction work. A rough estimate is that the total modification cost will be approximately $1.3 million. We estimate that approximately 50% of this cost is reimbursable through state grants. Every effort is being made to find ways to reduce this cost. In addition, by state law, to qualify for a grant reimbursement, bidding must take place for purchased equipment.