By: Dirk Perrefort, News-Times, October 6, 2009
DANBURY — State funding for several school construction projects, including a new Head Start building in the city, has been approved by the General Assembly.
The money includes $770,000 to renovate the former Immanuel Lutheran School on Foster Street into a Head Start facility.
Several lawmakers had feared last month that the money would have been affected by a moratorium on state aid for school construction projects.
The funding also includes about $3.2 million to help the city pay for the recently completed Ellsworth Avenue School as well as $11 million for planned renovations to Newtown High School.
“I am pleased to see our commitment to education and particularly to the Ellsworth Avenue Elementary School project,” said state Rep. Joseph Taborsak, D-Danbury. “This is definitely an important step in moving this project forward and I am delighted to share the good news with our community.”
State Rep. DebraLee Hovey, R-Newtown, said that while she applauds the release of the money, the temporary crisis posed by the moratorium last month never should have happened.
“In their poorly planned, last-minute scramble to pass a budget that raised taxes and borrows record sums of money to increase the size of government, the Democrats dropped the ball and endangered payments for school construction projects already in progress,” she said.
Robert Tait, Newtown’s finance director, said last month that delays in the state funding could have added more than $100,000 to the final cost of the high school renovation project.
Mayor Mark Boughton said the approval of the funding is good news for the city of Danbury.
He said city officials were planning to put the Head Start project out to bid last month when news of the moratorium forced them to hold back.
Now that the money is being released, he said, the bid process can continue — as long as the money is forthcoming.
“This would be good news for Danbury if the state follows through on its commitment,” Boughton said.
He added that construction on the Head Start facility could begin as soon as spring.
Contact Dirk Perrefort
School construction money approved by state legislature n About $3.2 million for the Ellsworth Avenue School in Danbury n About $770,000 for the new Head Start building in Danbury n About $11 million for the Newtown High School renovation project