Tuesday, Superintendent Jerome Belair announced that the state has approved the renovation of Waterford High School meaning that Waterford could be eligible to receive millions in state funding.
The state is already reimbursing Waterford more than 30 percent for the new construction involved in makeover of Waterford High School. However, before the state was contributing no money to the renovation of the existing school – approximately $15 million of work – meaning that was paid strictly by town dollars.
This approval, which required new legislation to enact, retroactively states that the work being done at Waterford High School meets the state’s “renovate-as-new” qualifications. That means the state will potentially pay the more than 30 percent reimbursement to that $15 million of renovation work, meaning a potential multi-million dollar check written from the state to Waterford.
However, Greg Smolley of JCJ Architecture said the actual amount the town will receive will not be known for several years, until the project is almost complete. Still, Belair said he was happy about the news, especially since the town paid $227,450 to JCJ Architecture to achieve the renovate-as-new status.
“This is great news from the state,” Belair said.
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Renovate-as-new status means that the school is, in the state’s view, as good as new, and all the parts of the school should last at least 20 years. The concept is the state does not want to reimburse projects unless they meet its standards to avoid paying for many projects when they prefer one that fixes the entire problem.
Waterford originally planned on not going for renovate-as-new status for the $15 million of work involved with renovating the existing high school because school officials were worried that there would be too many mandates to get to that renovate-as-new status and the cost of the renovation would be too expensive. So instead they paid the $15 million from town funds only and did the work they envisioned to avoid meeting the state’s mandates.
Later, JCJ Architecture said the town could indeed qualify for renovate-as-new status, which would mean retroactive reimbursement from the state on the project. Such retroactive reimbursement on projects was never done, but legislation backed by State Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, and State Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, passed through the state in May allowing for retroactive approval.
Then the town approved a $227,450 budget to JCJ Architecture to have them go back and qualify the $15 million of work of renovating the existing high school as renovate-as-new status. JCJ was successful, with Belair announcing the approval on Tuesday after the application was originally submitted in June.
Now, the town will potentially get millions back from the state. Smolley said the exact figure will be determined when most of the work is complete and final numbers can be used.