$522 M heading for school construction

The General Assembly gave swift and near unanimous approval Tuesday to spending $522.3 million to build and renovate schools across the state.

The funding will cover the cost to expand or renovate four schools in Danbury, three each in Fairfield, Newington and Stamford, two in Putnam and a single school in East Hampton, New Britain, New Haven, West Hartford and Wethersfield. (See the list of schools here.)

A funding bill for school construction projects is approved annually by the General Assembly with little to no pushback from legislators. On Tuesday, only two lawmakers voted against the $522.3 million spending bill that was adopted by the House and Senate and sent to the governor’s desk.

The bill includes language that requires school construction projects to reflect the safety guidelines approved in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings. The commissioner of the agency that oversees school construction, however, is authorized to waive certain guidelines when appropriate.

State funding for school construction has remained steady over the years, including in recent years despite steady decreases in student enrollment. State officials have said they expect that the costs to keep the 1,200 schools across the state safe and up-to-date will increase.

State reimbursements for the construction package covers from 25 percent to 80 percent of the costs.