State to Reimburse Tolland 89% of Birch Grove School Rebuilding Cost

The state has agreed to pay 89 percent of the cost to rebuild Tolland’s Birch Grove Primary School after it was discovered the building had a crumbling foundation.

During a Special Session Monday, legislators voted in favor of the 89 percent reimbursement for Tolland as part of SB 1210, which authorized grants for school building projects.

In a statement, Representative Pat Wilson Pheanious wrote in part:

“This was a bipartisan effort where everyone came together for the good of our community.”

The situation at Birch Grove began when the Board of Education noticed cracks in the concrete.

The district hired an engineering firm to test the concrete and a report delivered to town leaders in January said the school foundation had substantial cracking from the presence of pyrrhotite in the concrete.

Pyrrhotite is a naturally occurring mineral in some stone used in concrete that was mined in parts of Connecticut that causes the concrete to deteriorate over time.

In May, taxpayers approved a $46 million project to reconstruct the school, at the time expecting a 52 percent reimbursement from the state, which would have left taxpayers on the hook for around $22 million. Under the new reimbursement rate, Tolland will be responsible for paying around $5 million.

The process to construct a school typically takes at least four years but because it’s been deemed an emergency the project is expected to take half that – completed by 2021.

The town will house students in portables while the school is closed for construction. The state also agreed to pay $9 million for those classrooms.

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