$100,000 sought for Rowe school septic backup
ROWE — When voters approved building a new elementary school in May, they were told that the full $6.9 million school cost would be covered by town insurance proceeds.
School building construction has begun, but now the School Building Committee is asking residents for $100,000 more from the town’s Capital Stabilization Fund — in case the school’s septic system fails to meet state septic system requirements in a future state inspection. The money would be used to pay for a new septic absorption system, if the existing system fails.
If the school septic system does meet state regulations, then the money, transferred to an escrow account for this purpose, would be returned to Stabilization.
An article for a Jan. 9 special town meeting asks residents to approve the measure, and passage will require a two-thirds majority vote. The meeting is to take place at 6:30 p.m.
Selectmen are reviewing the special town meeting warrant.
The Finance Committee has unanimously recommended passage of the article. “If an appropriation is not made, the $100,000 will not be available for expenses related to the rebuilding of the Rowe School,” the committee wrote, in explanation of their support.
During the debate about whether such a small town should build a new school, the possibility that the old septic system might not meet standards was raised.
The system failed an inspection in April 2013 — a few weeks before the annual town meeting vote. But, in a letter to Selectmen, the School Building Committee reported that, “after further investigation, professional engineers associated with this inspection have indicated that it is highly likely that the (existing septic absorption system) could pass a new Title V inspection.”
The letter goes on to say that insurance money from the schoool fire is already paying for replacement of the 50-year-old septic tank and distribution boxes — “an expense that would have been paid for by the town at some point in the future,” if the old school hadn’t burned down in Aug. 2012.
The letter also says that maintenance and repair of the school septic system is a town responsibility, and that any repair or replacement would have had to be paid for by the town if the old building hadn’t been destroyed by fire.
According to the building committee, if the appropriation isn’t made, then $100,000 would have to be cut from the existing building plans.
Both the School Committee and School Building Committee hope that the new Rowe School building will be ready for students by the school year that begins in August 2014. For now, Rowe School children are taught in classrooms inside the Hawlemont Regional School. Rowe School enrollment this year include 36 elementary students from Rowe and 22 school-choice students.
You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: email@example.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277