Milford school updates could top $13 million

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

MILFORD — Pumpkin Delight Elementary School is showing its age. The gym is the smallest by far of any school in Milford, and it also serves double duty as the school’s cafeteria and after-school care space. Two classrooms serve as the school library, and the building’s mechanicals were last updated 64 years ago.

All of that could change within the next two years, according to a renovation plan that the school system’s Chief Operations Officer Jim Richitelli said could reach $14 million.

Over the past few months, the permanent schools facilities building committee has been interviewing architectural firms.

“They completed first round interviews in September, and currently the architectural services piece of this is out to bid,” said Richetelli, adding an architect will most likely be selected within the next month.

Once hired, the architect will start designing the building.

“They will sit down with central office administrators, the principal and teachers in the school,” he said. “They’ll sit down with parents to see what their expectations are.”

The next step is for the state to review the project and give recommendations. Then the construction can go out to bid, he said.

The renovation will include a new cafeteria and gym, a new media center, security updates, traffic and pedestrian safety improvements and general building updates. The project is being funded by the city and is expected to cost between $13 million and $14 million.

According to the renovation plan, the school’s current gym will be turned into a new media center. Currently, two classrooms serve as the school library.

“In the education world today, the media center is the hub of the school. Most of our elementary schools have dedicated media centers,” said Richetelli.

The project will be also incorporating COVID safety guidelines. Improved ventilation systems equipped with air filtration will be installed to new COVID standards. Other anti-virus features could be included too, Richitelli said.

“In this COVID world, where there has to be social distancing, we are looking at the possibilities of how we may be able to accommodate some of those post-COVID requirements that we’re going to have,” he said. Some ideas include an outdoor classroom and courtyard where students could be outside for certain classes.

Improved traffic flow and pedestrian safety are also included in the project.

“Like most of our schools, Pumpkin Delight is situated in a residential neighborhood,” Richetelli said. “The streets get clogged up with traffic at drop-off time and pick-up time.”

Building a secondary entrance road to reduce congestion is one possible solution, he said.

Additionally, security upgrades — including a front entranceway with bulletproof glass that are now being installed in all Milford public schools — are also included in this project.

Funding for the project’s architectural and design phase has already been allocated. Once those phases are complete, the estimate for the construction will be requested to complete the project, Richitelli said.

“We anticipate that that will be late winter or early spring,” Richitelli said.

Once the funding is put in place and approved by the city, construction may begin next summer, with the bulk of the work taking place in the summer of 2022.

Pumpkin Delight is one of Milford’s oldest schools. It was built in 1950 and while it has received a new roof and windows and a new elevator over the years, its last major renovation was in 1956.