EFPBC Overview of Need for WHS Renovation

by a.suffredini@me.com on July 14, 2013

Fellow Winchester Residents,

For the past 15 months the EFPBC has been engaged in a Feasibility Study to assess one of our most valuable assets, Winchester High School (WHS). Before summer officially begins we wanted to update residents on the status of the Feasibility Study and to summarize the key events related to WHS that will occur next fall.

Feasibility Study: The study, mandated by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), required us to extensively examine the school’s location alternatives while painstakingly determining the needs that must be met by WHS, both with respect to educational standards and community values.

The study revealed several critical issues that a new or renovated WHS will need to address. For example, WHS has insufficient space to meet an enrollment that is increasing to 1,370 students, a growth of more than 250 students over today’s enrollment. To address this capacity issue we will need to add 10 additional classrooms. The study also found that 25 of our 39 existing classrooms fail to meet state standards for square footage. Each of these, including critical science classrooms, will need to be modified.

These capacity and space issues are shared as an illustration of the broader topics raised in the Feasibility Study, a study that brought topics like building code, safety, and environmental issues into clearer focus for our committee.

Recommendations To Date: Our committee in collaboration with architects, SMMA, and input from a variety of stakeholders (Town Meeting members, Board of Selectmen, School Committee, school staff, parents, and other town boards and committees) recommended to the state that we proceed with a comprehensive renovation and small addition to the existing structure that will completely transform WHS inside and out with totally new classrooms, common areas, library/media center and auditorium. The MSBA approved this plan in April 2103.

What to Expect in Fall 2013? We are now engaged in a schematic design process that will determine the scope and cost of the comprehensive renovation of WHS. The MSBA will vote in October 2013 on whether to accept the schematic design recommendation and to determine their level of reimbursement. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, through the MSBA, is predicted to pay approximately 35-40% of the reimbursable project costs. The project’s final cost estimate is still being determined.

If the project receives MSBA approval, the Fall Town Meeting will be asked to vote on a debt exclusion override ballot question to cover Winchester’s portion of project costs. If approved by Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen will schedule an override vote.

Our Commitment to residents: Renovation of WHS represents an exciting 50-year solution for our town. The need for and issues related to this project are complex. Beginning in late August, the EFPBC, with assistance from other community leaders, will publish a series of articles on specific aspects of the project. The topics will include:

• Enrollment Growth and the WHS Education Program
• Operational Costs and the Role of Sustainability in our Design
• Project Costs and Planning
• Construction Phasing and Impact on Students
• Community Benefits and Use
• Potential for flooding and its impact on design and construction

Get Involved: The public is invited to the EFPBC’s biweekly meetings at Town Hall on Wednesdays at 6:30 pm. For materials related to the project or a list of our community meetings please visit www.winchesterhsproject.com. To register for our periodic e-mail updates send an e-mail with “contact list” in the subject line to: winchesterhsquestions@gmail.com. Please feel free to contact any member of the EFPBC with your questions or ideas.

Respectfully submitted,

The Members of the EFPBC (Educational Facilities Planning Board Committee)
Robert F. Deering, Chair, BOS Representative (Precinct 1)
Donald E. Cecich, Secretary (Precinct 3),
Bill McAlduff, Superintendent of Schools
Roger M. Hain, Finance Committee Representative (Precinct 6)
Cindy Bohne, School Committee Representative (Precinct 6)
Charles Tseckares, Architect (Precinct 3)
Geethanjali P. Mathiyalakan, Engineer (Precinct 5)
Gerald R. Nardone (Precinct 3)
Linda A. Rossetti (Precinct 2)
Brendan Driscoll (Precinct 7)
Shelly Walsh (Precinct 7)

For a pdf version of this article click here.

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