The Birch Grove Primary School in Tolland needs big repairs. It’s the first school in the state with a crumbling foundation. and it may not be the last.
The Birch Grove Primary School is the first school in the state, that we know of, that tested positive for having pyrrhotite – that’s the mineral blamed for causing hundreds, likely thousands of concrete foundations in homes in the northeast corner of the state to crumble.
Congressman Joe Courtney and other officials in this region fear the school and school district will not be the last that needs to confront the crumbling foundation crisis, so he is pushing a bill that would come up with federal money to help with the costs.
Built in 1999, the foundation at Birch Grove Primary School is said to be rapidly deteriorating. So much so, that town officials sent out a release saying they are proceeding with design plans to replace the portion of the school that is showing severe cracking.
Tolland officials hope the construction can start in 2020, which means the school district may need to find some alternative classroom space for students to use starting next school year.
Without federal funding, the state will pay 52% of the project with the town coming up with the remainder.
A town wide referendum will be needed to appropriate the funding.
While Tolland is the first town to deal with this issue at a school, Congressman Courtney fears it will not be the only town needing to replace a school because of a crumbling foundation.
The congressman says towns in the region should find out if any school are impacted and if needed, start the process of fixing them.
“It’s better to get started now than rather close your eyes to it, which I’m not suggesting people are doing, but lets face it. We’re talking about places kids are going and we want these schools to be safe.”
The Birch Grove School is for Pre-K through second graders. Town officials have been monitoring the school since, noticing significant cracking in 2017. The total cost of replacement is estimated to be $46 million before any reimbursements.
The town of Tolland will hold meetings for parents and staff throughout the process. Te first is planned for March 5th in the Birch Grove Gymnasium.