Holland Hill expansion, Fairfield Woods roof top schools’ capital list
No votes were taken — those are expected at the board’s first meeting in January — but there was a foreshadowing of possible debate looming over the Holland Hill project. One of the two proposed capital expenditures in 2016-17 is $1.24 million for architectural design, engineering and environmental testings costs that would add five general classrooms at Holland Hill, and also leasing two temporary classrooms during construction.
The Holland Hill project, part of the school district’s facilities plan adopted this summer, would make it a “504” school, which would have four classrooms per grade level, with an average class size of 21 students for an overall enrollment capacity of 504 students.
Current capacity at Holland Hill is 315 students, according to the school district, while enrollment as of this October is 405. New enrollment projections are in the works, but existing data projects 438 students in 2016-17 and 431 in 2017-18.
“We’re adding five general education classrooms, our capacity is 315, but I think that’s probably not a valid number,” board member John Llewellyn said.
Fellow board member Marc Patten said that starting with the school’s existing 24 classrooms, and taking away rooms designated for a specific use, such as special education, leaves 15 general classrooms. At a maximum of 21 students per class, that gives Holland Hill a capacity of 315 students.
“I’m no saying it’s incorrect,” Llewellyn said. “I’m interested in hearing at the next meeting the new (enrollment) projections. We’re basically have the new addition coming on line when enrollment starts to decline.”
Eileen Liu-McCormick wanted the board to wait for updated enrollment numbers before doing anything with the Holland Hill specs. According to Superintendent of Schools David Title, a full presentation on enrollment projections is expected at a February meeting.
“Would it make sense to get those numbers before we vote on the ed specs?” Liu-McCormick asked. “Whether we think it’s relevant to get updated enrollment figures, we would have that as a consideration. I just think it would be a logical step.”
Chairman Philip Dwyer said there is a “long lag time” between when the board approves the ed specs and when a building committee is formed. And, Title said, the school board can make changes to those ed specs at any time.
In response to a request from Liu-McCormick, Title said he would ask the consultants working on the enrollment projections if they could accelerate the Holland Hill numbers for January.
Patten said it sounded as though Liu-McCormick and Llewellyn were hedging on whether to make Holland Hill a “504” school.
“The school needs to be a 504 school,” Patten said. “I don’t see how enrollment projections would change it, unless it has to be a lot bigger.”
Llewellyn also wanted to know if, instead of leasing two additional portables for Holland Hill during construction, the kindergartners could be sent to Riverfield for one year.
An expansion project at Riverfield was recently completed. While there may be excess capacity there now, the total number of “empty” seats does not fall into one grade level, officials indicated, so that does not mean there are any empty classrooms for the Holland Hill kindergartners.
The other capital project proposed is $3 million to replace 18 roof sections at Fairfield Woods Middle School. The roof warranty expires this year, making the roof project eligible for state reimbursement.
“The roof is failing very quickly and needs to be replaced,” said Tom Cullen, director of operations for the Board of Education. “We’re doing minor repairs to get us through the winter.”
Cullen said replacing the roof was not considered when the middle school recently was renovated and expanded because it was still under warranty and there weren’t a large number of leaks.
Non-recurring capital projects total $3.17 million and include $2 million for the second phase of security upgrades around the school district. Title said $3 million for security was initially proposed last year, and the town and school board agreed to split funding into two phases.
Other non-recurring projects for 2016-17 include:
Central office’s information technology server room renovation, $200,000
Dwight School playground retaining walls and steps, $100,000
Fairfield Ludlowe High School replacement of two 1971 boilers, $620,000
Systemwide low voltage and electrical project, $230,000