$286 Million in School Projects Proposed During CIP Meeting

By Chris Paul

The Capital Improvement Planning Committee met on Monday, July 25, and heard from members of the School District’s Building Committee and their Architect on the district’s needs over the next 20-years. In that discussion, it was revealed that about $286 million is going to be needed to achieve all of their building needs. The figures given were in current building costs.
Eric LeBlanc, a Project Engineer with Lavallee Brensinger Architects, presented a rather lengthy slide show on the findings his firm had come up with on where the six schools in town stand.
LeBlanc explained the district has about seven tasks in the process and they are currently in the fourth stage, which is to prioritize solutions, plot an implementation plan, promote the Master Plan, and integrate maintenance and capital planning.
Each of the schools were looked at and individual needs were accessed and scored.
For the High School, most of the needs are in the oldest part of the building, the section that was built in 1971. Interior Finishes, Mechanical Systems, Electrical Systems and Structural Systems all scored very low.
LeBlanc added that interior classrooms without access to natural light set students up for lower scores on testing.
The highest need in the high school is an Auditorium/Large Multi-Purpose Area.
Also, the programming needs are to Re-organize the Building; Set up Houses to Integrate with Special Education; an Additional Gym; Modernize Café/Kitchen; Add Small group Classrooms; and Create Flexible Classrooms for Larger Groups.
The total cost for the high school needs was said to be about $98,750,000 in today’s dollar amounts.
The middle school upgrade needs totaled $50,600,000.
That building’s oldest portion was built in 1982 and the newer section was built in 1997. It had low scores in Interior Finishes, Mechanical Systems, Fire Alarm Systems and Structural Systems.
The largest issue at LMS is the cafeteria size and kitchen needs. They also talked about reconfiguring the entrance, adding a third Physical Education Space and to create a Learning Commons.
Matthew Thornton, the school district’s oldest building had a price tag of $31,600,000 for its upgrading needs.
The sections built in 1949 and 1960 had low scores in Interior Finishes, Electrical Systems, Mechanical Systems, Fire Alarm Systems and Building Automation.
Things needing to be addressed are: The addition of Small Group/Breakout Space for Services; The PALS Program needs a larger area; A STEM Lab is wanted; Nurses need more space; Conference Rooms are needed; and they want a Central Commons Area.
North Elementary School scored the highest, thus needing far less to be upgraded. The cost for adding a new kitchen, staff restrooms, offices, conference rooms and small group intervention testing areas was about $18,750,000.
South School was said to have the most needs and had a nearly $57,000,000 price attached to it.
It was also mentioned that it would make sense to completely replace the school instead of making additions to the existing structure. A new two-story school would be built directly behind the current school.
The 1978 section of the building had highest needs in Interior Finishes, Exterior Envelope and Fire Alarm Systems.
The top priority in the school was said to be a completely new kitchen.
Other items needed are: STEM Room; Small Group Meeting Rooms; a Computer Lab, Individual Work Areas; a Life Skills Training Suite; Larger Sensory Room; MPR Room for indoor recess; More Classrooms; Larger Nurse Offices; Hearing Impaired Lunch Room and a Learning Commons.
Moose Hill Kindergarten had two phases of additions totaling nearly $30 million.
Many of the upgrades are based on whether full-time kindergarten moves forward in town.
It would need a Kitchen and Cafeteria, a Multi-Purpose/PE room, Media Center, more classrooms, Art/STEAM Rooms, Music Room and Support Spaces, Special Ed Space, a Reading Room, Little Flex, Speech/Therapy Areas, Storage, Larger Nurse Area.
Also added in the presentation was the idea that the adaptive re-use of the school’s over the past 50-year has created an Environment that is “inefficient and poorly suited to today’s educational needs.”
The CIP Committee was asked to prioritize the overall plan that evening, but there was some confusion as to why the School Board has yet to approve the plans.
It was explained that the School Board will give their input throughout the process.
Overall, the committee was looking to schedule the project four to six years down the road. For many members, including folks in the audience, were hoped that more residents would be involved in the process as it moves along.
Currently the School District has five projects set in the of the CIP plan. The Kindergarten and Elementary School Space project and District Wide School Renovations are set at a Priority Two, meaning necessary within three years.
An Auditorium, LHS Gym Renovations/Turf Field and the SAU building were set at a Priority Four, meaning they can be held out for six years.

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