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Malloy Promises Full Funding; SHS Project Under Budget

Published: March 18, 2016

Public Building and Site Commission Chair Bob Mitchell and Geralyn Hoerauf, senior project manager for STV|DPM, told the Board of Education Tuesday, March 15, the new Sandy Hook Elementary School building project is continuing on time and under budget.

The project, Mr Mitchell said, is “right where we need to be” to allow the school to open for students at the start of the 2016-17 academic year.

“The wood front is going up, it’s on time, under budget, and we are looking for completion, substantial completion, on or about June 1,” said Mr Mitchell. “So we are very happy with that.”

Mr Mitchell also specified for the school board any budgeted money not used for the project will be returned to the state.

Ms Hoerauf said the interior of the building is taking shape. The section of the building with the gymnasium and the cafeteria is roughly 90 percent complete, she said, and the rest of the wing is painted and complete.

Crews, she said, have moved to focusing on the classroom wings. Flooring, ceiling work, and painting will progress in the wings for the next few weeks, according to Ms Hoerauf.

“Because the winter was very kind to us,” said Ms Hoerauf, “site work has progressed. They worked continually on the site through the winter, which is pretty amazing.”

Work is also progressing on the outdoor areas at the school, including the planned amphitheater space, according to Ms Hoerauf.

“We’re tracking absolutely on schedule,” Ms Hoerauf said, adding that bids are due back next week for technology and equipment.

While she said there are “still some things to clean up,” she estimated the project to be a little less than $1 million under budget.

Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, said the community should be proud of the school and the team working to complete it.

Following the meeting, Mr Mitchell said he could see the entire projected project coming in at between $48.5 and $49 million pending any unforeseen circumstances.

The Governor’s Promise

The Sandy Hook project was also on the minds of state lawmakers in recent weeks as a preliminary draft of proposed recessions or cuts to the current state budget included taking $2.3 million from the $50 million promised for the school’s construction.

The moment Newtown’s delegation at the Capitol learned of the proposed cut to the school’s promised allocation, State Senator Tony Hwang said he and Representatives Mitch Bolinsky, JP Sredzinski and Dan Carter went to work to ensure the new school building project would be made whole.

“We worked respectfully with the governor’s office and fellow lawmakers to be sure this project received the funding Newtown was counting on,” Senator Hwang told The Newtown Bee March 16.

To that end, Sen Hwang produced a brief memo from Governor Malloy’s representative Chris Smith, saying: “The state is committed to seeing this project through with the appropriate funding and will ensure that happens.

“In regard to the recent bond de-authorizations in SB 11, the project came in under budget, and as such these specific funds were not necessarily needed. In addition, the allocation in question was and is not the only possible source of support for the school; in fact, the first bond allocation for the new school was from Urban Act funds,” the governor’s liaison continued.

“We are in ongoing discussions with local officials about how to best fund this important project, and remain committed to its completion,” Mr Smith concluded.

Sen Hwang and Mr Mitchell both said that earmarking potential removal of promised funds was a bad idea since the project was not yet completed.

“If they had discussed taking out $2.3 million in the first few months of the project, we could have engineered things to accommodate that in the building process,” Mr Mitchell said. “But not weeks before we’re going to start moving furniture into the building.”

“I’ve said before that (sanctioning) these cuts is really putting the cart before the horse – the project isn’t complete yet, and we all know that unforeseen expenses could crop up in the final weeks before the project is completed,” Sen Hawng said. “I’m just glad the Newtown delegation was able to get assurances in writing from the governor that no matter what, the Sandy Hook School funding will be made whole.”

This story was edited to reflect Ms Hoerauf’s position at STV|DPM.

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