The district chose in April to build a new building at the same site as the existing building, rather than trying to fit into a wing of the Lindell School or build an extension at the middle school for administrative offices. Parents and board members were opposed to having children in the same vicinity of the administration offices, saying that the administration building receives many visitors.
FEMA presented the district with two options for funding, DeVito said. Usually, FEMA would reimburse the district for 90 percent of the project. But FEMA also gave the district to option to receive an upfront payment of 90 percent of the anticipated cost. Officials said that while receiving the money upfront to complete the project would be beneficial, there are some risks, and said that FEMA would not reimburse the district for any unforeseen costs — the district would only receive the initial agreed upon rate.
The district opted to take the award upfront, and on May 7 it signed an agreement with FEMA. School officials estimated that the project would cost $4.9 million, resulting in a $3.9 million FEMA award, accounting for a $500,000 reduction for insurance and a $433,000 deduction for the district’s 10 percent share — the portion of the cost for a public project that FEMA expects the locality to be responsible for. Once the numbers were agreed upon, the architects went back to the plans, and tried to make changes to bring down the cost to the award amount, eliminating the local share burden.
The district ultimately chose to use modular construction, like many post-Sandy residential homes in the area, rather than the traditional “stick-build” route, allowing the firm to significantly cut costs. The 7,000 square foot building will be built using adjoining modular units, which will be elevated and placed on top of a raised concrete foundation in order to be FEMA-compliant. The anticipated cost for the modular building is now approximately $3 million, $935,000 less than what FEMA has awarded the district. Now, rather than having to use district funds to pay for the project, it will have money to spare, officials said.