SOUTHINGTON — The Board of Education recently decided to absorb the $31,000 for heating oil consumption at DePaolo Middle School that some officials felt should come from the Middle School Building Committee.
In April, officials looked into causes of increased heating oil consumption at DePaolo Middle School and whether it was construction-related. Ceiling tiles and about 12 inches of insulation were removed from both Kennedy and DePaolo middle schools as part of the renovation project. Temperatures were compared from this winter to the past several winters to determine how much the consumption was due to the colder-than-normal winter and how much had to do with construction. School officials also speculated that DePaolo’s 50-year-old boiler was a factor because Kennedy, which operates on a newer natural gas system, is not having the same problem. Construction made it difficult to keep all areas of DePaolo at an even temperature.
An initial estimate for increased consumption was between $70,000 and $80,000. But after calculating heating oil consumption at other schools throughout the district, Sherri DiNello, school system director of businesses and finance, said the number changed.
“We realized there was higher oil consumption throughout the district because of the extremely cold winter we had,” DiNello said. “It came to $31,000 with the increase cost for fuel oil that we felt was specifically due to the construction project and we’re going to pay within our operating budget.”
Some school board members, including chairman Brian Goralski, originally felt that the building committee was responsible to pay the increases in cost because it was construction related. But after many conversations between administration, the school board and the building committee, a resolution was reached to have the school board use the funds from its 2013-14 operational budget to pay for the heating oil.
“Ultimately the costs that are put in those building projects the town pays over 30 years,” said Goralski who is also a member on the building committee. “If we have the money in this year’s budget, we thought it was the right thing to do.”
While Goralski said funding the cost will “give the building committee flexibility” he said the board still believes the increase use was “highly” due to construction.
School board member Jill Notar-Francesco said it was “concerning” at first when the costs looked closer to $80,000. Since the cost was lower and because the building committee has been working to accommodate the school board’s requests for changes in the science rooms, Notar-Francesco said it made since to pay for the heating oil.
“We decided not to pursue it because there are things within the construction project that are very important to us and we want to be sure that everything is funded… so it doesn’t take away from instructional value,” Notar-Francesco said.
Building Committee Chairman Edward Pocock Jr. thanked the work done between administration and town officials and called it a “win-win” for the schools and community.
“It was a great team effort,” Pocock said. “They stepped up to the plate and helped us out.”