The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 4, 2010

Carlisle School Building Committee reconfigures spaces

Plans bathrooms, air conditioning and access

SBC members review schematic layouts indicating where bathrooms will be placed. Shown (clockwise from left) are: HMFH architect Arthur Duffy, SBC members Bill Fink, Bill Risso, Ingo Szegvari, Chair Lee Storrs and Linda Vanaria. Owners Project Manager Sean Fennell is seated with back to camera.
(Photo by Cynthia Sorn)

In a move to create more space for the speech classes in the Wilkins Building, the Carlisle School Building Committee (SBC) is considering combining the teachers’ work and lunch room with the speech classroom. At the May 27 School Building Committee (SBC) meeting, committee member and first grade teacher Linda Vanaria was surprised at the news. “When was this decided?” she asked. “I’ve been to all the meetings.”

According to the current teachers’ contract, each school building will have “a teacher work and lunch room containing adequate equipment and supplies to aid in the preparation of the instructional materials.”

Asked by email about the plan, Chair Lee Storrs explained, “The wall between the speech room and the teachers’ work room in Wilkins is being removed. The MSBA [Massachusetts School Building Authority] has noted that the speech room is too small and needs to be expanded. I believe we plan to still have it available for use by the teachers when it is not being used for speech. If the room is being used for speech, the teachers will need to use the teachers’ room in Robbins.” HMFH architect Arthur Duffy said he “needs to follow up with the speech pathologist” on what is needed in the speech classroom.

With enrollment dropping, Storrs was asked if there were any other spaces that could be used for a speech classroom. “I think if space is available due to lower enrollment, it may make sense to put speech in a freed-up space, but this is something that we would need to look at further with the administration to see if this makes sense,” he replied.

When asked later about the plan, Superintendent Marie Doyle reiterated, “It is a speech room that the teachers can use. If it is unavailable, they can use the Robbins or Spalding teachers’ rooms.” She added, “In two years I anticipate there will be a separate speech room due to falling enrollment.”

Change to new speech classroom

The location of the speech classroom in the new Spalding Building is also changing, Storrs said. “In the schematic design drawings we had shown the elementary school speech room located in the connector between Wilkins and Corey.” The speech room actually sticks out in the wide corridor across from the Special Education office. “However we are now looking at shifting speech to the north side of the building (closest to the parking lot). This would “square off” that end of the building so the stairs are better integrated into the building.” The stairs currently stick out from the end of the building (see drawings on In addition, a new second floor room may be created above the speech room.

The hunt for bathrooms

The meeting flow seemed dominated by the quest to identify bathrooms that could be accessible to most teachers and students. Most of the new bathrooms will be located within other rooms such as the new nurses’ office. HMFH architect Arthur Duffy suggested installing a door from the hallway to the nurses’ bathroom making it accessible from outside the nurses’ office. However, the committee put off the decision, deciding to involve the school nurses in the discussion. The Robbins office suite will have a bathroom but it is also not accessible from outside the suite. The office suite will house the business personnel and also includes a superintendent’s office, which is not expected to be used due to the downsizing of administrative personnel.

Another potential source of bathrooms is the multi-purpose room which is being created out of three classrooms in the Robbins Building. The classrooms will be vacated when the second grades move to the new Spalding Building. The multi-purpose room is slated to be available for community use in the mornings. Discussions were held on whether the two bathrooms inside the room could be made accessible from the school hallway, which, members of the SBC said, could cause a security issue. Duffy pointed out that another bathroom accessibility problem occurs when a partition is erected across the room, splitting the room into two sections. There would then be no access to the bathrooms from one of the rooms. He suggested putting a door in the partition. He noted that the door leading from the multi-purpose room to the Robbins hallway would be locked during the “community use” times.

Existing bathrooms, such as the bathrooms in the Wilkins building, will not be made handicapped accessible, Duffy explained. Owner Project Manager (OPM) Sean Fennell, of Daedalus said it would cost thousands of dollars to upgrade the bathrooms. However, the Robbins nurses’ bathroom will be handicapped accessible. Storrs later confirmed that the bathrooms in the new building will be accessible.

SBC member and first grade teacher Linda Vanaria said there is a need for an easily accessible bathroom for the younger children playing outside the new Spalding Building. “I’m concerned – kids coming from outside need quick access to a bathroom.” Duffy said he would look at where additional bathrooms could be located.

SBC member Bill Fink said, “We need folks from the school to discuss these.” He suggested creating a list of issues and meeting with school personnel such as the nurses and administrators.

Air conditioning questions

The SBC reviewed the need to air condition the administration offices in the Robbins Building. The offices are slated to be included in the displacement ventilation system. Duffy noted that additional cooling could be created by connecting the offices to “smaller outdoor air-cooled condensing units located on the roof.” Fennell pointed out, “It is fairly unusual to not have the administration air conditioned.” Duffy agreed. “I think the approach to cooling would be the small condensers, and if that makes sense, to extend it to the nurses’ office.” Duffy added that the new multi-purpose room would be air conditioned.

SBC member Bill Risso asked Duffy to provide information on what the temperatures would be in the new classrooms during the summer, noting that the displacement ventilation system can cool to 65 degrees.

In the new building each classroom will have its own heat control, explained Duffy, but there will be just two zones for the displacement ventilation system. Each zone can have a two-hour override “button” to allow ventilation to continue after hours, he added.

Security and cameras

Security and access to the multi-purpose room and the administration offices in Robbins were discussed. The schematic plan calls for an exterior door on the School Street side of the Robbins Building which would allow access to the school hallway and the Robbins administration offices. But with no administrator in the office it was unclear who would be using the door other than the business office personnel.

The group discussed how to restrict the public’s access to the school hallways from the multi-purpose room, which may be used a few mornings a week by the community. Further discussions are planned.

Duffy discussed Vanaria’s suggestion to have a way to “lockdown all entrances/exits from the main office area.” He said, “Electronic strikes can be provided at doors,” which would allow doors to be locked or unlocked from a central location. He asked the committee whether the new equipment should be installed on only the new building or on all buildings. “Most schools have outside doors that electronically lock after students are in school,” said Fennell. “Any door that is an entry: put an electronic lock on it. There can be a camera for the main door and someone can buzz people in.” The committee discussed how many doors were used during the day (more than six) and the difficulty in automatically locking all the doors. They also discussed how many cameras would be needed and who would be responsible for watching the them and buzzing in visitors. Storrs said the issues should be discussed with Supervisor of Building and Grounds David Flannery and Principal Joyce Mehaffey. He concluded, “We’ll come back to that one.”

Corey access limited during construction

The question had been raised regarding a second entrance or exit to the Corey Dining Room, which is required by law. The area around the dining room will be a construction site and not accessible to students. Duffy said that students will enter and exit Corey through the loading dock, which will have temporary steps. Students would go outside via the rear of the Wilkins Building by the current seventh grade science classrooms. They would walk outside to the loading dock. Another entrance/exit will be created near the Wilkins Building, but he said this may not always be available. The committee decided more work would be done to determine the entrances and exits.

Handicapped access an issue

Fennell noted the difficulty in creating a handicapped entrance/exit from the Wilkins rear exit to the loading dock, which is a long distance over uneven ground. A discussion was held on how to provide access to the Corey dining room. The committee discussed using a van to drive the students to the rear of the Corey Building, where a temporary elevator would allow access. Another option they discussed would be to require students to eat their lunch in their classrooms.

Vanaria noted a need to paint stairs different colors to assist visually impaired students. Duffy replied, “I’m familiar with what is required by ADA. The top and bottom risers on new stairs” will be painted, he said. He said the work would not be done on existing stairs, however. “That’s beyond the scope of the project.” Vanaria said they have been working with a vision specialist, and Duffy said he would speak with her.

Asbestos removal

Some asbestos tiles will be disturbed in the Wilkins building, said Duffy. Fennell suggested the tiles should be removed. “Get it all done and get it out of there,” he said.

(See also “School project involves historic district,” page 4.) ∆

SBC plans to join the Wilkins Speech and Teacher Rooms.
(Adapted from school plans by HMFH)

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