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School Enrollment Task Force Meeting 12/21/16

posted Dec 22, 2016, 7:31 AM by Greg Dennis   [ updated Dec 22, 2016, 8:13 AM ]
On Wednesday, December 21, the School Enrollment Task Force met to review an architectural study for expansion of the Hardy School. The study was conducted by HMFH and can be found here. Hardy principal Kristin DeFrancisco attended and answered questions and gave input about Hardy's needs.

The task force adopted a motion to support, in principle, the plan to build a six-classroom addition to open in fall 2018 pending more input from the relevant committees. They need to determine where the money is going to come from but agree that this is the right way to address space needs at Hardy.

The study compared the costs of using four modular classrooms versus a four-classroom or a six-classroom addition. The estimated cost for four modular classrooms is about 1.4 million. Cost for a four-classroom addition is about 1.4-1.6 million, and cost for a 6-classroom addition is about 2.1-2.4 million. (More detail is in the report.)

Forecasts suggest that Hardy would need the additional classroom space for at least six years. Modulars typically can't be used for more than five years before they need to be repaired or replaced. The town would also have to buy them rather than lease them. The break-even point for that is five years.

Charlie Foskett, the Chair of the Capital Planning Committee and the Vice Chair of the Finance Committee, said that looking at the numbers, bricks and mortar makes sense for the town. In the end, we'll have an asset, and since you can't borrow for modulars, the town would need to come up with the money all at once. If we build and bond for 25 years, the town can spread out the cost. The task force was in agreement. Task Force members will take this recommendation back to their respective committees (Finance, Capital Planning, Permanent Town Building, and School) and details of funding will be discussed. The task force will reconvene on Wednesday, February 8 at 6pm.

The proposed addition would add to an existing classroom wing and is relatively easy to do, since the corridors can be extended and the current stairwells and egresses can still be used. The K play structure would need to be moved to the Lake Street side and the new wing would go there. It would be three levels of two classrooms each.

Hardy definitely needs three new classrooms. However, the teachers have given up their planning and lunch space. They are now using a space that's about 1/3 the size of a regular classroom, but it's very challenging, so the larger addition would give them back that space. It's also possible that another ELL classroom will be needed with our growing enrollment. The principal also pointed out that Hardy is currently unable to meet demand for the after school program and additional programming space for that would be very useful.

Because of enrollment growth, Hardy's current playground space is inadequate, and the project will look into developing the lawn on Lake Street for this type of use (kindergartners are already using it sometimes, but the conditions are challenging). The extremely undersized cafeteria is also a major concern that will be looked at more closely in future studies.

The possibility of making the lower level of the addition a more flexible space was also discussed. They can put in a movable wall so the two classrooms could be used together or separately. This is being done with the Thompson addition so it can be used for some gym activities such as yoga.

The idea is that the addition would open for fall 2018, but this is all pending discussion by the relevant committees and dependent on funding.