LYME/OLD LYME — The school district has received about $12 million in grants for HVAC upgrades for three schools — funds that can potentially be used to reimburse part of the cost of the $57.5 million school building project that voters approved in November.
Region 18 was one of 19 districts recently awarded funding through the first round of a state grant program for schools upgrading their heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. The program, funded through a combination of state bond money and federal coronavirus relief funding, sets aside $150 million for HVAC projects across the state. On Wednesday, the state announced the first round of the project, which grants a total of $56 million to a variety of districts.
Region 18’s grant includes $6.24 million for HVAC improvements at the middle school, $3 million for Lyme Consolidated School and $2.7 million for Center School.
Superintendent of Schools Ian Neviaser said the funds will significantly decrease the cost of the building projectfor the towns, lowering a project expected to cost $47 million after state reimbursement to $35 million.
“I’m so excited. That’s just such great news,” he said.
According to the grant guidelines, municipalities are required to pay an amount that matches the grant they received. Neviaser said the district still has to calculate how much it needs to bond to receive the full reimbursement.
Neviaser said the district did not apply for a grant for Mile Creek Elementary School because it had already applied for reimbursement from the state through a “renovate as new” designation. The district expects to receive about $9.8 million in reimbursements for the school, according to Neviaser.
With the exception of Waterbury, Region 18 received the largest grant award of the 19 districts. The overall cost of Region 18’s project is also one of the highest.
The school building project includes code upgrades, boiler replacements and HVAC upgrades at Center School, Lyme Consolidated School, Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School and Mile Creek Elementary. It will also add classrooms at Mile Creek..
Neviaser said he believed the grant funds have to be expended by 2024. He added that the architects are aware of the date, but that it was always the district’s plan to get the project done within that time frame. But he said it’s possible the date may also be adjusted.
“Obviously our goal is to try to get it done in that time period to get the full investment,” he said.