A Nov. 10 referendum is in the works for Region 12.

At stake when voters in Roxbury, Washington and Bridgewater take to the polls will be a $39.4 million agriscience science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) center at Shepaug Valley School in Washington.

The Board of Education accepted a conceptual design Monday, Aug. 31 of the proposed center by Kaestle Boos architects.

With it, the board gave its approval to an estimated $39.4 million cost for the center’s construction, as calculated by O & G Industries.

“We’ve got the design locked down at this point,” said board member Anthony Amato. “We have to start the ball rolling at this point, accepting an estimated cost for the project in order to get to referendum and move forward.”

During the board’s Aug. 17 meeting, an O & G representative had presented a $45 million cost for the project. However, after re-examination of calculations, O & G reduced that figure to $39.4 million.

The savings were found by reducing the size of an equine ring and building by 3,000 square feet, eliminating miscalculated buildout for sports fields by 3.7 acres, thereby reducing the site work to 34 acres.

The proposed agriscience addition would include a 20,000-square-foot equine facility, a 10,100 square foot animal facility, a 4,900 square foot equipment garage and 19,670 square feet of renovations to the existing school building, which opened 45 years ago.

State Rep. Arthur O’Neill, who was present for Monday’s Region 12 board meeting, told the board to anticipate an 80 percent reimbursement from the state for the construction of the center.

O’Neill was instrumental in getting state legislative support for Region 12’s plans to have the 20th agriscience STEM center in the state.

“I have started to open the door,” O’Neill said. “This was accomplished by the combined efforts of both houses in the legislature and the state Education Committee.”

“The quality of education students are receiving at Nonnewaug High School’s ariscience program is outstanding,” he opined. “If Region 12 offers the same quality education, this will be great for the state.”

A provision of Region 12 receiving the state’s designation as an agriscience center was that each of the three towns in the region — Bridgewater, Roxbury, Washington — pass the Nov. 10 referendum.

Jim Hirschfield, the Region 12 board chairman, said the state Board of Education could modify that requirement to read only that the region-wide vote needs to approve the proposed project.

The state Board of Education was set Wednesday, Sept. 2 to consider that possible amendment.

stuz@newstimes.com; 203-731-3352