FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield Ludlowe High School’s students could get more space, new windows and a new roof soon, but at a cost of more than $11.6 million to Fairfield’s taxpayers.
The Fairfield Board of Education approved a proposed renovation plan for Ludlowe on Tuesday night. The project would add two science labs and four all-purpose classrooms to the school, expand its cafeteria and renovate the teacher and senior lounges. It would also replace the school’s drafty windows and upgrade the 22-year-old roof to ward off leaks.
The school board made the roof project a priority after a portion of the membrane opened Jan. 31, damaging 15 classrooms and closing school for a day.
“The roofs are aging and becoming problematic,” Fairfield schools’ manager of construction, safety and security Sal Morabito said Tuesday. “That roof failure that we saw is just showing that it’s becoming more of a problem.”
The six classrooms were also considered necessary, because of overcrowding at the school. Administrators predict Fairfield Ludlowe’s enrollment will climb to more than 1,700 students by the 2015-16 school year. The school’s current capacity is 1,400 students. With 1,517 students as of Jan. 2, Ludlowe is already over capacity.
“The educational need for expanding that school is urgent,” Superintendent David Title said Tuesday.
Fairfield Public Schools have three other multimillion-dollar renovation projects in the works. The town’s expansion of Roger Sherman School has already cost $3 million and will add another $3 million when it resumes next school year. Fairfield Warde High School is in year two of a four-year $6 million roof replacement. Osborn Hill School’s contaminant remediation is expected to cost the town nearly $4.2 million. And the town’s government is set to vote on a $13 million proposed expansion of Riverfield School later this year.
The Board of Education discussed the town’s debt projections for school projects Tuesday night. The high burden led them to choose a less costly renovation plan.
The board also considered renovating seven student bathrooms and adding an improved ventilation and air conditioning system to Fairifeld Ludlowe. Those two options would have brought the total cost to more than $23.4 million.
“It’s just a question of what we think the appetite is at the town level to do an authorization all at once, or whether they want to have it come in pieces,” Title said. “I think it all needs to be done.”