Friday, January 20, 2006
SBC considers expanding school into main parking lot
Though still in the conceptual drawing stage, school building plans continue to take shape. The School Building Committee (SBC) met January 12 to review their priorities and zero in on the school's short-term needs, as well as long-term ones addressed by architects.
In the short term, the school is considering adding four temporary modular classrooms to provide immediate classroom space. Modular units could be installed as early as this fall, pending approval by voters, but exactly where to place the units on the crowded school site remains a topic of debate. The Building Committee is also considering renovating an unfinished space in the lower level of the Corey Building, beneath the music rooms. The so-called "mistake" room was created when Corey was built in 1988 and a contractor blasted in the wrong location; the space was later walled in by the contractor and is now used for storage space. It could add up to 1,600 feet of classroom space if it is renovated.
HMFH architects last week also produced a new option for the school's aging buildings and space needs: a new multi-story building located in the main parking lot next to the Corey Building. The new building, constructed in phases, would operate twice as efficiently as the group of separate buildings now at the school, said HMFH architect George Metzger. Much of the current school parking lot would be used if the latest building option were selected and parking spaces would need to be replaced somewhere else on campus.
After reviewing its priorities, the Building Committee decided to look at a new multi-story building to house a large part of the school population rather than expend significant funds renovating its older buildings such as Wilkins and Robbins. During renovations school buildings must be brought up to all current school building codes such as mechanical, ventilation, Americans with Disabilities Act, and other code requirements, explained HMFH architect Lori Cowles. The SBC wants to avoid what it sees as costly renovations of the older buildings and would like to build in phases, moving students into space in a new building as it is completed and later demolishing the older buildings.
Two other building options remain on the table and were shown by architects at meetings at the school this week. One option previously preferred by the committee shows a new office and classroom building on the plaza that would serve as a central entry building for the school and connect the Corey Building to the rest of the school. The current one-story Wilkins Building would be removed and replaced by a new two-story building. Another option shows a new building connecting the Robbins, Wilkins, and Corey Buildings with Wilkins remaining a one-story building. The building project selected would be completed in phases, pending voter approval. The short-term phase is defined as within the next 18 months, mid-term as five years out, and long-term as ten or more years away.
Banta-Davis ruled out for now
The SBC looked briefly again at the possibility of building an entirely new school on the Banta-Davis Land off Bedford Road as a way to avoid expensive renovations on the older buildings, though the group ruled out the option at this time. Recreation Commission member Maureen Tarca attended the meeting after being contacted by the SBC about possible building plans at Banta-Davis.
While she was there, Tarca took the time to remind the group of the demand for the Corey gyms and multi-purpose room, which she said are used non-stop at night and on weekends. "There's a big need for (recreational) middle school gym space."
Highland not viable
for school use
The 100-year-old Highland School remains a dilemma for the school. Many on the Building Committee would rather see it removed from the campus. Though they say they like the old school, it can no longer be used for classrooms without spending an estimated $2.5 million to renovate and bring it up to current school building codes. Its value as a historical building is under debate in the community and Highland may become a political obstacle on the school expansion project. The SBC voted, "The Highland Building is not a viable school building," with one member, Peter Stuart, voting against the statement.
© 2006 The