Thursday, January 23, 2003

Councilors review building project

Published in the Current

In their first full look at a $9 million school building project proposal, Cape town councilors were concerned about enrollment projections and parking at the high school.

They did not address possible project delays due to budget constraints. That subject is expected to come up at a Jan. 30 budget workshop between the School Board and the Town Council.

The project is in two parts. The first is a $1.5 million addition to Pond Cove School, to add space to accommodate the kindergarten, now housed at the high school. The one-story addition would include five classrooms, group workrooms, occupational therapy space and a teacher’s room. It would be able to support a future second story.

The second part is a $7.5 million renovation to the high school, including expanding the entrance to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and making the cafeteria larger to seat all students in each of two lunch periods. The renovation would upgrade the building’s electrical, air handling and telecommunications facilities, upgrade the science labs to modern standards, install a new gym floor, replace the locker rooms and reconfigure some teaching and administrative rooms to make more efficient use of space.

School Board Chairman Marie Prager said the high school will need the space now occupied by the kindergarten starting in the fall of 2004.

If the Pond Cove addition is approved this spring, construction will be complete in time for the kindergarten to be at Pond Cove in September 2004.

If not, Prager said, the School Board will need to rent portable classrooms. If the Pond Cove work is approved later than this spring, the portables will be at the high school and will be occupied by high school students until construction is complete.

If the Pond Cove work is not approved at all, Prager said, more expensive kindergarten-ready portables will be installed at Pond Cove for the foreseeable future.

Councilors did not comment on the proposed Pond Cove addition. Councilor Anne Swift-Kayatta asked about enrollment projection models for the high school.

Councilor Mary Ann Lynch, who served on the building committee that came up with the proposals, replied that the enrollment models made a few years ago are still being used for planning purposes, but said enrollment changes are not driving the need for the high school renovation.

Councilor Carol Fritz asked about the need for additional parking spaces at the high school. There are just under 560 existing parking spaces near the school complex and the community center, but the high school project will add about 100 more.

Town Manager Mike McGovern said that is because there is such heavy daytime use as well as after-hours activities in the building. When there is more than one evening event at the high school or community center, he said, “the parking is woefully inadequate.”

The School Board will next meet in a planning workshop, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m,. at the high school library. The Town Council and School Board will meet together in a budget workshop Jan. 30, at 6 p.m., at the community center.