Walsh School Funding Approved; State Treasurer Cautious

The state’s Bond Commission yesterday approved a $500 million allotment for school construction statewide, including $30.7 million toward the renovation of the town’s Walsh Intermediate School and the reconstruction of the Board of Education’s (BOE) central office.  Walsh was one of the schools on the state’s priority list. 

Governor Dannel P. Malloy chaired the special meeting, the first following the adoption of Connecticut’s long delayed budget. While the Bond Commission approved the funding, the state’s budget challenges are far from over and how quickly this moves forward remains to be seen.

State Treasurer Cautious

Earlier this week the CT Mirror reported that State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier has warned in her most recent monthly debt report that Connecticut might need to temporarily transfer operating funds to cover its capital program.

She said the lengthy state budget debate had left the capitol program low on cash.

“The state uses this program to finance municipal school construction, road and other infrastructure upgrades, building programs at public colleges and universities, state building repairs and other projects,” the article said.

The article noted that “the state has issued no bonds to date this fiscal year to support its capital program, compared to the $1.3 billion it had issued at this point one year ago.”

Local Boards Move Forward

Sally E. Bahner PhotoMeanwhile the town’s Public Building Commission (PBC) and the BOE (pictured) took another step early in the week toward moving forward on getting construction documents ready for state approval. The overall project is expected to cost $88.2 million, with the local share coming in at $57.4 million. 

At the joint meeting Monday night, town officials from the PBC and the BOE each voted to certify that the final construction documents were ready to be submitted to the state via Grant Form 042 for both the school and central office within the school.

The documents consisted of building elements related to site work. While the central office will be included within the school, its cost is separated from the school’s cost and its financing is under a separate state grant. Hence, the need for two separate documents.

Scott Pellman of Colliers International, owner’s representative, said, “We reviewed the documents and built in the alternates to give us flexibility.” He said that they performed “due diligence” and authorized that the drawings be submitted to the state. He added that the state has a checklist, which will be double checked at the meeting Dec. 5.

Greg Plasdil of Fusco Corp, construction manager, said that it’s expected that the project will go out to bid Dec. 15 and that bid packages are now being prepared. He said that a meeting took place with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities; CHRO influences the companies that work on projects and makes bid packages eligible for minority businesses. “It’s tied to state dollars,” Plasdil said, adding that due to state budget problems, “there’s not a lot of work out there.”

The next step, Pellman said, is that the documents will go back to the committee for a guaranteed maximum price (GMP), which should be by mid-March. That will determine the final cost of the project, plus a 3 percent contingency.

Plasdil said by then, they will have vetted the proposals and set target goals for minority bids.

BOE member John Prins asked if the kids at Walsh will have an opportunity to learn from the project. Plasdil said that it’s been done before on various projects. “There’s a lot of curiosity,” he said. “Kids can be updated on construction, engineering, and architecture.” Walsh principal Raeann Reynolds said that teachers are already working on it. “We’ll see a momentum.”

BOE chair Michael Krause said that the public will be invited to an open forum regarding the project in January or February.

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