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Newton School Committee Approves Design for F.A. Day Work

The design will now go to the Design Review Committee for consideration.

The Newton School Committee last night approved initial designs for additions and renovations to the crowded . 

Although the plans are only at 50 percent design, they will now move forward to the city's Design Review Committee, who will take a look at the plans and offer suggestions during a meeting on Thursday. Next week, the design and proposal for $643,500 in design costs will move on to Board of Aldermen subcommittees. 

Deputy Superintendent/Chief Administrative Officer Sandy Guryan after design is finished and bids come in to the city. 

"We won’t know the final cost until we complete the design and reach the stage of having construction drawings that allow us to go out to bid," Guryan said. 

Despite the uncertainty of the project's final cost, Guryan encouraged the School Committee to approve the design to allow it to stay on track and move forward to the Design Review Committee and Board of Aldermen.

The current $4.3 million design includes the creation of six new classrooms as well as renovated administrative space and an expanded cafeteria.

To view the proposed design and related documents, click the .pdf to the right.

Once expanded, the cafeteria could hold more than 300 students at a time, reducing the number of lunches at the school from five to three, HMFH Senior Associate Vassilios Valaes told the committee last night. HMFH is the firm currently working on the F.A. Day project designs.

Additional renovations for the school's West entrance and equipment for a science classroom are also proposed, but add another $500,000 onto the estimated costs and bring the project's total to $4.8 million. Guryan has noted several times that those two items will be listed as "options" on the project bid proposals.

Valaes explained that the majority of the costs tied to the science classroom have to do with the plumbing and furniture used in the classroom. Waiting on installing the plumbing, he added, would likely cost more in the long run.

Last week, , as at elementary schools. With the modular classrooms coming in at around $1 million, the School Department has been trying to work down the F.A. Day cost to $4 million. 

in both the middle and elementary school projects.

Nevertheless, several School Committee members last night supported the design and its ability to not only add space, but also address programmatic needs in the school, as previous designs included isolated classrooms, fewer potential learning spaces and no renovations to administrative areas.

"I think we're in good hands," said committee member Geoff Epstein. "I'm impressed with the amount of work that has been done."

Committee member Jonathan Yeo also expressed satisfaction with the design process and collaboration between the city, schools and architects. However, Yeo still had concerns about how disruptive the construction would be to students and staff. 

Valaes assured the committee that the architects are working closely with F.A. Day Principal Brian Turner to identify temporary spaces for student services and administration.

As of now, the construction schedule places the majority of the work between June of 2012 and February of 2013, including new construction of a two-story administration wing, new entrance, renovation of old administrative and student services space as well as new construction of the third floor for two new classrooms.

The timeline currently has students moving into the new space in late February 2013.

Editor's note: Monday night's School Committee meeting included several topics of discussion and a lengthy public comment period. For those stories, stay tuned to Patch later this week. 

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