Schools studying future of buildings

By LISA CAPOBIANCO

STAFF WRITER

A feasibility study is underway to take a closer look at all of the district’s buildings.

During a special meeting last Wednesday, the Board of Education unanimously approved the selection of architect firm Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc. to conduct a feasibility study for Bristol Public Schools. The city allocated $60,000 towards this study, which is expected to take about three months to complete.

Deputy Superintendent Dr. Susan Moreau noted key questions that the study will address—like whether the district should remain divided between a K-8 and K-5 system or turn all its schools into a K-8 system. Currently, the district has two K-8 schools (West Bristol and Greene-Hills) and six K-5 schools (South Side, Hubbell, Stafford, Mountain View, Edgewood and Ivy Drive).

As soon as DRA receives the contract, the district will begin meeting with the architect to set parameters for the scope of the study.

“We’ll be meeting with the architects to determine the exact questions,” said Moreau, adding that the hope is to have a comprehensive study by July.

During the board’s discussion about the study, Moreau noted that DRA will conduct a new demographic study to look at where the district’s students live and what to expect with student enrollment looking ten years ahead.

Moreau added that DRA also will look at four building renovations that are listed in a certain order for a “renovate as new” status in the district’s capital plan.

“Right now in the capital plan, we have four building renovations in there in a certain order. We don’t know if that’s the order that will be recommended or if the demographics will say that we don’t need all the current spaces that we have,” said Moreau.

Previous feasibility studies for the district took place in 1998 and 2005. After the 1998 study, the district closed all of the schools that were identified as too expensive to renovate, said Moreau. The 2005 study focused on the district’s current schools and projected the K-8 schools, which opened five years ago.

“Now we’re 20 years later, and we need to have that same conversation again,” said Moreau.

Besides the feasibility study, the district also is gearing up for various school improvement projects, including the roof and parapet replacement at Chippens Hill Middle School. During the meeting, school officials approved the plans and specification for this project, which also would involve an update in mechanical equipment if the budget allows.

“We have had the architect create an architectural plan for updating the mechanical equipments if the budget allows,” said Moreau.

The board also unanimously approved the Alliance Building Repairs Grant, which would help fund the computer servers at both West Bristol School and Greene-Hills School, as well as a complete upgrade of the wireless access points at Chippens Hill. The $1,080 grant also will help pay for the replacement of kitchen equipment and an update of security cameras, some of which were bought in 2000.

“We are very fortunate for a second year to receive a grant as an Alliance District,” said Moreau.