Originally built in 1925, Woodbury is showing its age – both in form and function:
The major building systems – mechanical, electrical, roofing, and flooring – are well beyond their life expectancy and failing.
Outdated entrances, lighting, and fire suppression systems fail to meet today’s increased safety and security standards.
Disconnected classrooms and learning spaces isolate students and inhibit creative, collaborative learning opportunities. Science and technical program areas,are limited and insufficient to meet expanding STEM and robotics curriculum. The same holds true for music and visual and performing arts.
The entire physical facility will be updated, including all mechanical, electrical, plumbing and life safety systems.
A sprinkler system will be added, asbestos will be removed, and heating and ventilation improvements will regulate classroom temperature and improve environmental air quality.
External traffic patterns and flow will be improved – busses and parents will drop off in distinctly separate locations. All traffic will exit in the same direction for increased safety. The plan calls for 150 parking spaces on the school side of the street with an additional 20 parallel spaces for visitors near the main entrance. This design allows us to have all parking, including staff parking, on the school side of the street, reducing the need to cross a very busy Main Street.
Instructional spaces will be redesigned to elevate the quality and functionality of classrooms and promote improved collaborative learning opportunities. This includes right sizing spaces to meet today’s standards and ensuring proper storage areas to complement instructional needs.
Grade- and team-level environments will be created that provide adjacent complementary programs such as science, technology, math, and engineering. This includes science lab spaces that are adequately sized and properly designed for today’s teaching and learning needs. Teams will also have access to flexible collaboration spaces for individual and small group learning and enrichment.
Visual and performing arts will receive dedicated areas to meet growing participation in those programs and provide state-of-the-art acoustics and lighting required for a quality program.
Public entrances will receive state-of-the-art security systems separating student and common areas for improved safety and security.
The cafeteria will be repositioned outside of student pathways and a new gymnasium will be constructed with on-site locker rooms and fitness areas.
A new gym with two regulation-sized courts will provide not only students, but the community at large, with a fantastic athletic resource. A separate entrance will enable us to limit the public’s access to the rest of the school for increased safety and security. In addition, we’ll be able to move locker rooms from a basement level and provide cleaner, safer facilities adjacent to the gym that will provide students with increased privacy.
This alternative was considered and investigated. A detailed analysis of failing systems – HVAC, electrical, roofs, and plumbing – revealed extensive repair and replacement costs to merely bring the building up to minimum standards. Simply addressing these existing deficiencies was estimated at just under $36 million – a cost that would be added to the annual operating budget.
This approach would result in continuous repair projects over a longer period of time that would ultimately increase the overall costs to taxpayers and the impact on Woodbury students. The renovation option was deemed a more cost-effective solution that also provided significant educational benefits to students.
The district does not own land or have the financial resources to purchase land to construct the school elsewhere. Therefore, the committee investigated building on the lot adjacent to the school. However, based on geotechnical data, structural mitigation costs, and other impacts, this site isn’t economically suitable for construction of the required facilities and associated improvements.
Without a suitable location for the new school, the current building would need to be razed and a new one construction on the same spot. Aside from the disruption to students, the estimated cost of the project was deemed excessive at more than $68 million.
The most cost-effective solution is selective demolition of the current building, partial gut renovation, and new additions.
We plan to draw three bonds in three successive years of approximately $16.2 million each. In the final year, 2022-2023, when the last impact is accounted for, a homeowner with a house assessed at $300,000 will have realized a tax increase of approximately $180, which will translate to a little less than $16 per month at its highest point. Thereafter it will decrease annually.
There is no better time financially to renovate and build. The community will take advantage of low interest rates, stable labor costs, good market conditions, and an increasingly competitive bidding market. Further, the state will award building aid for selected and approved projects.
This year’s roof leak is a harbinger of things to come. Delaying the project only adds to the annual cost of maintaining the building and increases the eventual cost of the project down the road.
We have more than 850 students currently, and although enrollment projections suggest fewer than this number of students in near-future years, building for less than 900 is short-sighted and financially unwise. Planning core facilities for this number will ensure that population growth in future years will be accommodated. None of us can accurately predict the future, but we can intelligently use current information and apply it in a fiscally responsible manner. History shows us that enrollments are cyclical and will likely go up again. Now is the time to address our needs in a prudent and wise manner.
In addition, the number of students is not necessarily the most critical factor in determining the size and design of spaces. It’s also about the variety of uses today’s schools demand. A 21st century curriculum includes engineering, innovation, robotics, art and music, maker spaces, build spaces, and collaboration spaces that are needed regardless of the size of the student population. We must continue to provide a curriculum that promotes the development of future-ready skills, and we need the appropriate space to support it.
The project includes a 3-year process that starts with a design stage in March 2020. Site work activities will begin after that in the spring of 2021 with construction concluding in the fall of 2023.
Phasing the project will minimize disruption by starting with the construction of a new three-story classroom wing. Once this is completed, students will move into this area clearing the current spaces for renovation activity. This avoids the need to bring in trailers or temporary structures and assures students experience the benefits of redesigned spaces early on in the project.