Norwalk committee approves $271.4 million in build costs for two new schools
By: Kalleen Rose Ozanic, Staff Writer • Published February 11, 2024
NORWALK — After a Common Council committee set the maximum contractor costs for the upcoming construction of the South Norwalk School and the new Norwalk High School, the city is looking at a maximum combined cost for the projects of as much as $271.4 million.
Newfield Construction, the South Norwalk School’s contractor, can charge the city at most a committee-approved a $51.8 million. The new high school’s contractor, Gilbane, can charge no more than $219.6 million for the build. Alan Lo, the city’s building and facilities manager, said the city did well with its guaranteed maximum prices.
“I think we have to recognize that, the last few years, the construction industry, especially school construction in Connecticut, has been very challenging as the prices go up and down,” Lo said at the meeting Wednesday of the Common Council’s Land Use and Building Management Committee.
Both projects are set to break ground in late February, Lo said at the meeting. The South Norwalk School is slated to open for students in the 2025-26 school year, while the Norwalk Public Schools anticipates the new high school will welcome its first class in the 2027-28 school year.
South Norwalk School
South Norwalk School’s guaranteed maximum price takes up about 68 percent of the project’s $76 million budget.
The city will receive 80 percent reimbursement from the state for the project, making Norwalk’s financial obligation for the new build at $15.2 million.
In the Wednesday meeting, the committee voted to remove Shawn’s Lawns, an excavation contractor, from the build; Lo said the business has unresolved zoning and conservation commission violations.
“I feel very strongly that this is not a company that I feel comfortable giving our city business to,” Chair Barbara Smyth said before the committee voted to remove the contractor from the project.
Some parts of the two projects are ineligible for state reimbursement, Lo said. For the South Norwalk School, one of the big ticket items for which the city is on the hook will be traffic improvements.
In September, the Common Council approved a $2 million special appropriations request for flood and road improvements surrounding the upcoming school at 1 Meadow St. Ext.
The funds were pulled from the free balances of the Jefferson and Ponus Ridge schools.
The Common Council also approved $2.9 million at that meeting for the acquisition of six nearby properties on which the new school will expand: 8, 32, 36 and 38 Oxford St., 16 Meadow St. Ext, and a 1.13-parcel next to the proposed school property.
Norwalk High School
The guaranteed maximum price for the new Norwalk High School takes up the vast majority of the project’s $239 million budget at about 92 percent.
The new high school project also will receive 80 percent reimbursement from the state; the city is responsible for $47.8 million. In this project, the turf and concessions won’t be eligible for state reimbursement, Lo said.
The new building will be constructed on the site of the current Testa Field Complex. A new athletic facility will be built in place of the existing school, which will be demolished after the new one is built, according to the project website.
“As a result, many athletic programs will be displaced during construction from 2024 through 2027,” the project website states.
Because of the disruptions, students will be bused to athletic practices and competitions at other sites that would previously have been held at there. The district will bus students to athletic spaces at Nathan Hale Middle School, West Rocks Middle School, Cranbury Elementary School, Brien McMahon High School and Oak Hills Park.