EAST MONTPELIER — The bond for repairs to East Montpelier Elementary School passed 811-731 Tuesday in its second go-around with voters.
The $8.17 million bond will be used to finance renovations and improvements that will bring the school into compliance with the fire code, make it handicapped-accessible and reduce energy costs, in addition to other repairs.
The latest bond vote approves a reduced version of the project, originally pegged to cost $10.3 million, that voters rejected by a margin of 404-286 in May. A facilities committee had worked since then to scale back the project to present something its members hoped town residents would support.
“It has been a long road, but along the way we have felt the support of this wonderful community that we’re lucky to live in,” said Flor Diaz-Smith, the head of the facilities committee, adding she was overwhelmingly happy to hear the bond passed.
“My first thought was the teachers and the students. They will finally get what they have been waiting for. Our children are the greatest investment that we have,” she said.
Diaz-Smith said the committee will meet with an architect within the next week to go over the designs for the project with the hope of putting it out to bid in the spring and breaking ground next summer. She said construction will take 15 months.
School Board Chairman Rubin Bennett said he was incredibly glad the bond passed. Even though he knows an $8 million bond for anything in a town the size of East Montpelier is hard, it is much more feasible than the original cost of $10.3 million.
“It’s a financial pill that we can swallow,” he said.
Bennett said the vote in May, while not the result he wanted, was helpful because it told the school and the committee they needed to go back to work. The committee held meetings over the summer with the community, and Bennett said those were very helpful in getting feedback about what the community wanted.
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