Approximately $2.2 million in repairs are needed at the three elementary schools in Region 12.

Now it's up to the district Board of Education to wrestle with how to raise the funds.

Under state statute, only half of the required amount could be bonded, board treasurer Valerie Andersen said. The problem is, in order for the district to bond for repairs, the work must qualify as long-term capital investments.

Short-term, catch-up repairs cannot be bonded by statute, Ms. Andersen explained this week.

"We're looking at things like whether to do window replacements, which would be a capital investment, or to do window refurbishment, which would be short-term repairs but would cost less," she said.

With the three towns of Bridgewater, Washington and Roxbury owning the real estate on the three schools, the district is in a "unique situation" when it comes to bonding, Ms. Andersen said.

"We're looking everywhere for answers," she said. "It's not that we don't want to do the work and do it quickly."

Board chairman Jim Hirschfield said Monday the board is "going to need answers from the selectmen of the three towns" on how to come up with the additional funds.

"Each town has a definite idea on how to cover the shortfall," Mr. Hirschfield said. "We don't know the exact number yet of what is or is not bondable. We're hoping for a definitive answer Tuesday when we meet with the bond counsel again."

Bridgewater First Selectman Bill Stuart -- whose town owns Burnham School -- noted there is some $400,000 in the district's operating budget that could be applied toward the work needed at the three schools. If the district could bond for $1.2 million, that would leave just some $600,000 needed, he said.

"I think there are different ways the money could be found," Mr. Stuart said. "Probably the best way is to have each town put up the rest required for its own school. Every town has reserve funds."

"Then again, possibly over the next two or three years," Mr. Stuart conjectured, "the school board could appoint more money toward the work in its budget and get the repairs done."

Roxbury's first selectman, Barbara Henry, agrees there is money in the district's operating budget that could be applied toward the repairs. Each town has put in money over the last three years toward the operating budget, she said, with some $100,000 each of those years.

Ms. Henry said she is waiting for "a more definitive answer" on bonding possibilities. If additional funding were to be required from Roxbury, she would take the question to the residents, she said.

Washington First Selectman Mark Lyon was not reached by The Spectrum for this story.

During the last several years, the Board of Education, through its Lease Committee, has been working to secure new leases on the elementary schools -- Burnham in Bridgewater, Booth Free in Roxbury, and Washington Primary.

As part of this negotiation, the three towns wanted an agreed upon list of repairs the tenant, Region 12 school district, would assume under the terms of the leases.

The list of needed repairs at all three schools is available on the Region 12 Website, www.region-12.org by linking to "Board of Education."