The Board of Aldermen Monday approved a $12 million bond authorization, although not without a partisan confrontation.
Republicans tried unsuccessfully to add $2 million to build four additional new classrooms, arguing that the amount of extra taxes would have been negligible.
Alderman Paula Smith (R-3), who proposed the amendment, estimated it would raise taxes about $100 over 20 years on the average.
But Democrats, who hold a 9-6 majority, rejected the increase. They pointed out that in this economy, many taxpayers can’t afford any increase, and that the $12 million project would adequately meet the school’s needs.
The issue brought a vocal crowd of supporters to the Board of Aldermen meeting to urge approval of the project.
Residents, including a number of teachers and students at the middle school, spoke for more than an hour on the topic. Many asked the aldermen to approve the original $16 million, which had been pared down since last fall.
Even then, Democrats said that $12 million was the largest amount ever approved for renovating a single school in Milford’s history.
The project will give the school a new roof, new windows, expand the media center and cafeteria, and build new art and music rooms and four new classrooms (the proposed amendment would have raised that to eight).
The project would increase the size of the school from 60,000 square feet to 72,000 square feet.
But a number of parents and teachers complained that the renovations would still leave East Shore without electronic "smart boards" and other technology that the city’s other two middle schools -- and -- have.
Students who spoke complained about the overcrowding at East Shore, which was built 40 years ago as an elementary school and was never fully renovated as the other middle schools were.
Mayor Benjamin Blake said if the $2 million amendment had been approved, the aldermen would have had to re-notice the bond authorization ordinance in accordance with a 2008 bond council opinion.
Board of Aldermen Chairman Philip J. Vetro (D-4) said recent bids for a firehouse came in 25 percent below the estimated costs. He and other aldermen said they hoped the city receives favorably low bids allowing Milford to restore some of the items that were cut without having to increase spending.