School Committee Approves Recommendation to Expand Middle School
Recommendation says renovations should be made to middle school and up to six modulars at the elementary schools.
The School Committee tonight voted unanimously to accept the recommendation from administration to expand facilities at F.A. Day Middle School and purchase up to six modulars for the elementary schools.
The language of the recommendation was a crucial piece to the vote--as committee members noted they did not want to commit to a particular construction plan at Day and the possibility that all the recommended modulars may be the best option for particular elementary schools.
"My opinion has absolutely evolved from where we started," said committee member Matt Hills. "The need is shown in absolute excess."
Committee members also emphasized the importance of staying under the $5 million the city has said it will bond for the projects.
"I can't see looking at this as other than a single $5 million project," Hills said.
Following tonight's approval, Mayor Setti Warren will take the recommendation to Programs and Services Committee, the Public Facilities Committee, Finance Committee and eventually to the entire Board of Aldermen for full board approval.
According to the recommendation issued by Deputy Superintendent and Chief Administrative Officer Sandra Guryan, the estimated cost for F.A. Day Middle School permanent construction ranges from $3.5 to $3.8 million. At this point the committee has been presented with three potential plans for construction at the school.
The plans, which emphasize the addition of six classrooms, expansion of the cafeteria and relocation of the central office, will help a population that will see a net increase of more than 130 students next year.
The timeline for the expected middle school project will hopefully land its completion in Sept. 2012, the memo said, which means the designing and stages must start in early 2011.
The recommendation outlines one modular classroom for Burr, Mason-Rice, Countryside and Horace Mann and two modulars at Zervas.
In the case of Zervas, Guryan said, even if another student is not added next year the school "needs the classrooms just to be able to function effectively as a school."
The price tag for the six modulars could range between $1.2 and $1.65 million, Guryan said, depending on whether the city and district decide to purchase "green" modulars, used modulars or the traditional modulars that are now used on several elementary schools.
A timeline for the modulars is much shorter, however, as Guryan outlined that the district would go out to bid on the modulars in early 2011 and the classrooms would be installed over the course of next summer prior to the start of the 2011-2012 school year.
However, several Countryside parents stood up earlier in the night during the public comment section to express their concern with a possible modular at the district's largest elementary school.
In the past, there have been issues with the modulars going in at the school due to wetlands surrounding the building, the parents said, and there is concern that will snag the process again.
In addition, parents shared some concern with the ever-expanding school, which has topped 500 students and has roughly 40 percent of its population as English Language Learners.
"Ask yourself how big you want Countryside to grow," said Christina Kulich-Vamvakis, co-chair of the Countryside School Council.
Some parents suggested redistricting or perhaps finding a new approach to enrollment in the district.
Some committee members have shown concern with a possible modular at Countryside as well, which is why many felt good about the loose wording of the recommendation, as it left the exact number of modulars open, stating "up to" six modulars could be purchased.
The committee resolved, though, that Countryside will be an important topic of conversation in the near future.
The Mayor also emphasized the greater infrastructure needs in the city and how looking at public buildings is going to be a key focus over the next few years.
"We have major work to do beyond this short-term situation," Warren said.