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$2.46M in School Fix-Ups OKd

Barrington Town Council signs off on health and safety repairs to 6 schools; cost to local taxpayers will be around $1.5 million.

The Town Council signed off Monday evening on up to $2.46 million in health and safety repairs to Barrington’s six schools. About half of the cost of the work involves fire alarm systems and fire prevention.

The proposed scope of work came from the School Committee by way of the School Building Committee and consultants that have been assessing the schools for almost a year. The application now goes to the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE).

The health and safety work will bring all of the buildings up to the state’s fire and building codes. The actual cost to Barrington taxpayers will be either 60 or 65 percent of the $2.46 million price tag depending on the reimbursement rate at the time of final approval by RIDE, said Ron Tarro, school finance director.

 Approval on the application is anticipated by September.

Marc E. Zawatsky of Half Mile Road, chairman of the building committee, presented the scope of work to the councilors. He said spending could still be less because some new construction methods are being considered that could trim costs.

“We will also bundle packages (of work) as we can to trim costs,” Zawatsky said.

The doors that lead into and out of the courtyards at the high school and middle school are examples of work that could cost less than proposed in the scope of work, he said. Re-swinging the doors in the proper direction is estimated right now to cost about $70,000.

Zawatsky said the building plan is still considered a “live document.”  It could be brought back to the Town Council in July with cheaper numbers.

Town Councilor Bill DeWitt questioned, in particular, the cost of the fire alarm systems: about $1.2 million – almost half of the expenditure.

“That’s a lot of money,” he said.

Zawatsky explained that the alarm systems to be installed can tell the fire department exactly where in a building smoke and fire has been detected. It gives firefighters a head-start in extinguishing a blaze.

“We pared this down to the absolute minimum,” said Edward R. Frenette of SMMA (Symmes Maini & McKee Associates) of Providence, the consultant to the School Committee at a recent meeting. “You can always spend less.”

Ron Tarro, director of finance, said previously that the administration will continue to evaluate the needs of each school and adjust spending as needed.

School Committee Chairman Patrick Guida has said: “If we don’t have to do it, we won’t.”

The scope of work shows the following costs for each school:

  • Barrington High School -- $885,609
  • Barrington Middle School -- $464,841
  • Hampden Meadows School -- $662,117
  • Nayatt School -- $114,275
  • Primrose Hill School -- $197,530
  • Sowams School -- $139,930

 Here is a look at some of the work and its costs at the high school:

  • Replace railings in the stairs to the second floor ($13,648)
  • Re-swing doors from courtyards to exist in proper direction ($32,756)
  • Install fire shutters on openings to cafeteria from dishwasher ($$13,648)
  • Create a second means of egress from the courtyards ($32,756)
  • Replace toilet and urinal petitions in boy’s locker room ($13,648)
  • Upgrade toilet rooms adjacent to faculty dining room ($44,357)
  • Replace all rooftop exhaust fans ($75,066)
  • Emergency and exit lighting ($64,488)
  • Make fire alarm modifications and upgrades ($444,835)

 Here is a look at some of the work proposed for the middle school:

  • Modify handrails and guard rails in corner stairwells to second floor ($40,945)
  • Replace missing handrails and stair nosings at exits from the gym and girls locker room ($20,472)
  • Replace and re-swing doors from courtyards to swing in proper direction ($27,292)
  • Replace kitchen ceiling with washable ties ($23,065)
  • Ceiling insulating panel needs replacement in boiler room ($20,472)
  • Emergency and exit lighting ($50,157)
  • Allowance to cover potential HVAC system failure ($180,000)

Most of the Hampden Meadows work involves adding smoke partitions at exit corridors, extending masonry walls to the underside of the roof deck, removing ceiling grid and tiles in corridors to access and seal those openings with metal studs and rated gypsum board, and giving all wall openings at least a 30-minute rating. The cost is more than $511,000.

The most significant work at Nayatt, Primrose Hill and Sowams schools involves modifying and upgrading the fire alarms at a cost of almost $79,000 each for the former two schools and almost $69,000 at Sowams. Each classroom at Sowams also needs exit windows at a cost of $30,000.

Bristol County Anonymous June 06, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Something is very wrong here. Fire code compliance at public schools should be the highest priority, on an ongoing basis, and not ignored until it becomes a multi-million dollar project due to years of neglect. How unsafe are the buildings, right now? Why isn’t this being addressed, right now?
RI Politics June 06, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Exactly my thoughts. The school Dept has a plumber, an electrician, and two maintenance workers. How do the schools fall apart? What do they do on a day to day basis and overtime every sat morning?
Manifold Witness June 06, 2012 at 02:12 PM
There's a faculty dining room?
john June 06, 2012 at 04:56 PM
The fire alarm upgrades are a complete waste of money. As it is everytime a fire alarm goes off it comes in as a zone. And depending on how the zone is labled thats where the area you go check. If you cant find smoke and fire just by being in the general area then its time for new firefighters, Having the alarm panel saying 2nd floor room 250 or whatever is overkill.
RIReader June 06, 2012 at 10:46 PM
It's just a room between two single-toilet bathrooms off of the small cafeteria between the kitchen and these toilets. The door has a sign that reads "faculty dining room" but it's not really a room anyone uses for anything except to walk through to use the bathroom. I'm sure kitchen workers use it to eat lunch. Most teachers eat in faculty department offices.
SteepleRunner June 07, 2012 at 08:34 AM
$60,000 to replace and 'reswing' doors are the high school and middle school?? How makny doors are we talking about here? What are these doors made out of? While I may not have context for some of the repair costs, this one seems out there. Reminiscent of the stories of the federal government paying $9,000 for toilet seats.

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