WEST HARTFORD — The Board of Education began its annual budget process Tuesday by discussing the proposed 12-year capital improvement plan.
The plan, which runs from 2023 to 2034, focuses on the maintenance of school buildings with specific projects focusing on boilers, roofs, masonry, flooring, painting, bathroom renovations and replacement of furniture, among others. It would also provide the district with a technology update of 1,500 devices.
“This begins our formal budget process for the year,” said Andy Morrow, deputy superintendent. “We always start with the capital improvement plan, that is, the accounting and requests we have for the ongoing maintenance of buildings, furniture, the purchase of equipment and our infrastructure. computer science.”
A major part of the plan involves fresh air systems in nine elementary schools in the city. Currently, according to the city, only two elementary schools — Charter Oak Elementary School and Smith STEM School — have building-wide fresh air and cooling systems.
Braeburn Elementary School and Wolcott Elementary School have fresh air throughout the building with limited air conditioning. The other seven elementary schools, the city said, have “limited fresh air and air conditioning and inefficient single-pane window systems.” These nine schools would receive improvements.
“We’ve certainly learned that lesson from the pandemic,” Superintendent Tom Moore said. “It’s not just about cooling the air. It’s about conditioning the air that our children breathe every day. The objective would be to have at best an air cooling system in all buildings, whether it is pure air conditioning or dehumidification.
The plan would also allow for the construction of 12 new tennis courts at both Hall High School and Conard High School. The city said the current courts are about 25 years old and nearing the end of their lifespan. The total cost of the 24 courts – which would be constructed of concrete and include new fencing and outdoor netting – would be around $3 million.
“There’s been a big outcry for about 10 years now about these courts being replaced,” Moore said, adding that they’re not only used by students, but also by the public.
Other projects in the plan include replacing seating in the auditoriums at Hall High School, Wolcott Elementary School and King Philip Middle School, as well as renovating restrooms in the high schools and the Sedgwick Middle School.
Moore said the projects, which also include paving, roofing work and other updates, are a routine and necessary part of the capital improvement plan.
“We have excellent buildings that in some cases are almost 100 years old,” Moore said. “The vast majority are in the 50 to 70 age bracket that we have to take care of to be able to maintain them. This is the maintenance that you distribute among 16 schools. Boiler replacement is cyclical…you kind of always do it. Asbestos, we still do. This is the essential nature of CIP.
The school board will vote on final approval of the plan at a future meeting.