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Finance board approves $1.2M for Deans Mill roof

STONINGTON — The Board of Finance has approved the expenditure of $1.2 million for a new roof for Deans Mill School. The funding request, approved Wednesday, now moves to the Board of Selectmen, who must approve it before it goes before voters at a town meeting or referendum.

In January, the Board of Education voted to ask the finance board for $569,000 to fix five leaking areas of the roof: the cafeteria, office, gymnasium, library, and an instructional wing.

“Essentially, the roof is out of warranty. The town did pay to have the rubberized membrane over that, but it’s beyond its useful life,” William King, the district’s business manager, told the finance board.

Board of Finance members said they’d prefer to replace the entire roof at once. Although other areas aren’t leaking yet, King said, scans of the roof indicate it’s only a matter of time.

June Strunk, a finance board member, said, “I don’t think it’s worth doing part of it.”

“We don’t want to be visiting this two years from now, or three years, for the rest of the roof,” said Chairman John O’Brien. “Do we need to do the whole roof?”

Although the board was quick to approve the money, members said they were concerned that they were just hearing about the leaks now. According to King, the roof was leaking eight years ago when he started working in the district.

Board member Dudley Wheeler said, “Eight years this has been leaking and now all of a sudden it’s an emergency. It should have been brought forward before now.”

O’Brien said he first learned about the leaking roof when he read about it in the newspaper, with pictures of the tarps and hoses set up to trap and redirect the dripping water.

If approved by the voters, the roof work could begin over the library during the April vacation, weather permitting, and be finished over the summer, King said.

The $1.2 million figure is enough money to fix the entire roof, with an additional 15 percent contingency. The money would come from the town’s nearly $11.8 million undesignated fund balance, also known as the rainy day fund, and will not affect the tax rate.

“Kids shouldn’t be sitting in a leaking building,” said board member Sandy Grimes.

A large contingent of Deans Mill School parents filled the back of the meeting room at the police station to show their support for the proposal. Daniel Kelley, the Deans Mill PTO president, thanked the board for approving the request.

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