Madison Releases a $61 Million Plan for a New Elementary School

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MADISON — A project to build a new elementary school for the local school district is expected to cost about $61 million, according to a recently published budget document.

Chuck Warrington, the director of project management from the firm Colliers International, which the district contracted to oversee the project, explained the cost of the project at a Board of Education meeting last Tuesday. 

In September, school officials released the first draft of a plan for the new Jeffrey Elementary School, which would have space for about 600 elementary school students, from kindergarten to fifth grade. The new building is part of a larger $85 million project plan that is scheduled to go to referendum in February. 

The school budget includes a construction cost of $46.6 million. Furniture, technology and playground equipment for the building is estimated to cost an additional $2.7 million, and $6.6 million for expenses and fees for designers and consultants in specific areas. 

“Kitchen designers, acoustical engineers, there’s just a lot of specialties in these buildings that are going to be required,” said Warrington. He also recommended hiring a separate hazmat consultant for the Ryerson property. 

Although that budget includes the cost of demolishing Ryerson — approximately $1.2 million — Cooke said that the decision to demolish the building would ultimately come from the Board of Selectmen. 

According to Warrington, the director of facilities for the Town of Madison Bill McMinn and Superintendent Craig Cooke talked to Connecticut Water about bringing city water to the site rather than drilling wells. He said the school would use private sanitary and sewage treatment similar to the current main campus. 

The budget also includes $500,000 to install geothermal wells to heat the school. But Warrington said that the site would first need to be evaluated to see if that was a viable option. 

The cost estimate includes a factor that accounts for the possible changes in material costs. Warrington said that the cost of building materials had become volatile with the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

Warrington said that professional estimators would recalculate the cost of construction three times during the building process to make sure that the projections are correct. 

“We want to make sure we’re tracking on budget, we’re managing to budget,” said Warrington. 

Warrington also warned that the firm’s current projects were facing delays as a result of supply chain bottlenecks in roofing insulation and raw material. He said he hoped that by the time that Madison began its construction on the new school, the supply chain problems will be resolved. 

The project is expected to receive approximately $9.8 million in state reimbursement, leaving the district responsible for $51.3 million. Warrington said that his team would also look for rebates from Eversource once the design for the building was complete. 

The new building will include 5 kindergarten classrooms, 9 first- and second-grade classrooms, and 11 classrooms for third, fourth and fifth grades. Other amenities include a library media center, a world language classroom, a STEM lab, and a 6,000 square foot gymnasium with a platform stage. 

Toward the end of the meeting, board member Diane Infantine-Vyce asked about the process of naming the new building. Superintendent Craig Cooke said that the building had been referred to as “the new Jeffrey,” since he started as superintendent last year, but that this was simply a placeholder. 

“It’s my personal opinion that the naming of the school is a whole community event,” said Infantine-Vyce. 

Warrington estimated that the construction will last approximately 16 months.

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