Elementary Modulars, F.A. Day Expansion Plans Progressing this Summer
At last week's School Committee meeting, there was a lot of talk about facilities projects and how they are progressing.
It's a busy season for the Newton Public Schools and facilities projects aimed at improving the classroom experience for a rapidly-growing student population.
"We've got a lot going on this summer with facilities," said Deputy Superintendent/Chief Administrative Officer Sandy Guryan at last week's School Committee meeting.
After receiving approval from the School Committee, Programs & Services and Public Facilities Subcommittees as well as the Finance Committee and Board of Aldermen, the four modular classrooms proposed for three elementary schools are on the track for going out to bid this week.
The bids for the modular classrooms are set to go out this Friday, July 29, Guryan said at the July 19 School Committee meeting.
Aldermen approved $923,375 in funding for the modular classrooms, which will be installed at Horace Mann, Burr and Zervas Elementary Schools. However, the approved money does not cover the added cost for mandatory sprinkler systems.
A letter has been filed with the Sprinkler Appeals Board asking for an extension for the sprinkler installation, Building Commissioner Stephanie Gilman told the School Committee last week. The district is hoping to install those systems next summer, Gilman said.
Meanwhile, plans for permanent construction and expansion at F.A. Day Middle School are still moving along. Schematic designs will likely be done by the end of August, Gilman said, after the city and school officials look at some "structural issues" with the building and determine any cost implications that may come along with those issues.
According to a memo sent from Guryan to Superindent David Fleishman, F.A. Day Principal Brian Turner is currently working on what kind of space the school needs with the programming it offers, as well as plans for temporary teaching spaces needed during construction.
The Day project is on track to be completed in early 2013, the memo said.
While the committee has recently focused on short-term facilities needs, it has also acknowledged the need for a "robust conversation" on long-term facilities plans.
The city is currently going through a building assessment of its 43 city buildings, not including schools, to gather up infrastructure needs and organize those needs into a Capital Improvement Plan to be presented in October.
Meanwhile, the School Department must adjust and update its building assessment to reflect the influx of students and any projects that may have been completed since the last study. Representatives from HMFH Architects are currently gathering data at the buildings and will make recommendations for updates.
"Our facilities are atrocious," said School Committee Vice President Reenie Murphy. "I don't think it's right that kids are sitting in classrooms like this."
Several School Committee members agreed that once the building recommendations are in, the committee must have a substantive conversation about how the district can move forward with a growing student population and aging infrastructure.
"We’re not just going to have something that gets slid into the city inventory without conversation," said School Committee Chair Claire Sokoloff. "This committee needs to own the plan."