November 16, 2006

On budget, ahead of schedule

Committee praised for work on Callahan School renovations

Staff Writer

BURRILLVILLE – The School Committee applauded the work of the Callahan School Renovation Committee on Tuesday after a report from that board's chairman that the project is on budget and ahead of schedule.

The project to renovate and expand the W.L. Callahan Elementary School, originally intended to be substantially completed by April 1, 2007, is about three months ahead of schedule, according to David Brunetti, the chairman of the renovation committee.

Brunetti told the committee that the ongoing work on the building should be substantially completed by late December, and added that project is "pretty much on budget."

On Wednesday Brunetti credited general contractor A.F. Lusi with their efforts to complete the job on time and according to specifications.

"The sooner they get the project completed, the sooner they can get moving on another project," Brunetti said.

Besides adding classroom and resource space, the expansion includes a new media center and computer technology center built in the old gymnasium, and new construction for administrative offices, a new gymnasium and a playground.

"It's going to be a really nice complex," Brunetti said of the media center and technology center.

Although not externally visible, the refurbishing of the original buildings has been just as crucial to improving the building's functionality. Built in 1936, Callahan formerly served as the town's high school, and now houses grades 2 through 5, and special education pupils. Before this renovation, the last improvement to the building was an addition built in 1973. The renovation has brought long-needed updates to interior spaces.

"The 1936 building has been totally refurbished," Brunetti said.

The project has redone outdated restrooms, and renovated deteriorating floors and ceilings. The building has also been brought into compliance with new fire codes and has improved handicapped accessibility.

Brunetti said that other elements of the project will be mostly invisible even to students and faculty who walk the halls each day, such as the installation of two new boilers, a new ventilation system and asbestos and lead abatement. Such items will improve the quality of life in the building while decreasing maintenance problems.

"There's a lot of expensive stuff that people don't see, but it's necessary," Brunetti said.

The renovation committee also believes it has solved long-standing issues of flooding with the installation of an improved stormwater detention system, Brunetti said.

The project got under way after the town approved a referendum in May 2005 to issue $7.5 million in bonds for the purpose of renovating the school. If the Rhode Island Department of Education contributes to the project at the expected reimbursement rate of about 40 percent, the cost to Burrillville for the project will be about $4.35 million.