School voters face upgrade plan again

WILTON – Voters at the School District Meeting will have a second chance to consider an addition to and renovations of Florence Rideout Elementary School.

This year’s plan is smaller than last year’s and has a price tag of more than $8 million. The bond would be for $7.76 million, which includes the first year’s interest payments and various fees. The proposal was narrowly defeated last year, and once again, the budget committee has not endorsed the plan, saying it is too expensive in the current economy.

The annual District Meeting will be Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the elementary school gym.

The plan is to remove the 1950s wing and fill in the space between the 1895 building and the gym with a three-level addition. A new entrance in front of the gym would make the administrative offices more accessible, improve safety and allow the rest of the building to be closed during public use of the gym.

The plan includes upgrading the old building to meet current safety codes.

Even if the expansion plan passes, the present school still needs a new boiler to see it through until construction is completed. The cost is estimated at $45,000. Officials said the old boiler is “being nursed through the winter” and occasionally fails.

The operating budget totals $3.02 million, an increase of just less than 1 percent from the current budget.

The operating budget does not include the costs of a collective bargaining agreement with the school’s support staff, which costs $6,397.

The board is also asking that $50,000 of any undesignated fund balance available June 30 be placed in a capital reserve fund for building maintenance and improvements. That fund was depleted this year by the need for a new roof on the 1895 building.