Council approves schools’ building application

The Barrington Town Council signed off on the school district’s Stage II application to the Rhode Island Department of Education for $2.466 million to address a variety of health and safety issues at local schools last Monday night, though the matter might be back before the board next month.

The matter was presented to the council by Mark Zawatzky, chairman of the school district’s building committee. Mr. Zawatsky said it might have been a bit premature to be standing before the council because the building committee had met with RIDE earlier that afternoon and was informed of the potential for heightened enforcement of regulations stemming from the American with Disabilities Act.

Mr. Zawatsky said school officials were going to evaluate where the district stood in relation to these issues and the results of this investigation could have an impact on the total amount identified in the application.

Then again, it might not.

Mr. Zawatsky also said all of the items listed in the current plan — provided to the council and posted on the school district’s website — are estimates and some of the costs might eventually prove to be lower.

Mr. Zawatsky said the amounts are “placeholders,” prepared by third party cost estimators working for a consulting firm hired by the district to assist with the application process.

Money will not be unnecessarily spent, said Mr. Zawatsky, and the building committee will try to “bundle” items such as fire alarm upgrades among schools to achieve cost effectiveness.

What this means is that while additional items may be identified in looking into ADA issues, savings in other areas may leave the total cost of the project at its current amount.

The additional evaluation has forced a shift in the project’s timeline.

Originally, the goal was to have the district’s application to the RI Board of Regents later this month with a Regents’ vote on the matter in July. This will now be pushed back one month.

The council unanimously approved the application with the understanding that members would receive an update should the total amount change.

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