(19 Questions)posed by the Windham Board of Education in red. answers in lower case. Comments in Bold http:
Windham High School has had no major renovations since its construction in 1970. The facility does not support 21st century teaching methods and is in violation of numerous codes. If the facility is not renovated, the high school may be at risk for losing its accreditation, making it more difficult for Windham students to get into college or find a job. Additionally, students will continue to choose other regional high schools for their educational needs, costing Windham taxpayers over $1 million annually.Columbia Schools sent students to Windham High for over eighty years. In 2012 they began weening students away to other high schools in the region that offer a superior education opportunity. They didn't pull out because of code violations or the lack of water-less urinals in the boy's room. Columbia pulled out because of superior educational opportunities elsewhere.
The New England Association of Schools and College’s (NEASC) is the oldest accreditation agency in the United States. Being accredited means that a school adheres to a set of educational standards. These standards include academic excellence, good curriculum and facilities that meet the educational needs of students.
During the winter of 2015, NEASC will visit and rate Windham High School, including its facilities. The current condition of the building will put its accreditation at risk. Adding to this issue is that 10 years ago NEASC reported that Windham High School facilities needed upgrading. Windham has not yet addressed any of their concerns.
They recommend that the school upgrades:
Facility recommendation starting on pg 48
There is no expiration date for accreditation. The only way our accreditation would “expire” is if we refused to participate in the accreditation process. WHS is participating in the process and will have NEASC visit December of 2015. A that point the school’s accreditation could be put on probation but would not expire. Loss of accreditation is never an immediate thing.
4. Will WHS graduates' diplomas be recognized as accredited even if accreditation may be lost in the future?
Yes, all diplomas are recognized as coming from an accredited high school if the student graduated at a time the high school was accredited.
Connecticut’s State Department of Education defines “renovate as new” as a school building project to completely refurbish an existing building, which results in the renovated facility taking on a useful life to that of a new facility. The benefit of a project being classified as “renovate as new” is that many of the costs considered ineligible for reimbursement in an “alteration” may be considered eligible for reimbursement in a “renovate as new” project.
Windham will receive a higher reimbursement rate from the state if the Board of Ed offices are moved to the high school. A cost comparison of renovating the building with the Board of Education offices versus renovating it without the Board of Ed offices shows that renovation costs would be nearly $11 million more expensive for the town of Windham if we did not move the Board of Education offices to the high school.
The Board of Education offices are located in the Kramer Building on Prospect Street in Willimantic. The Early Childhood Program is also located in this building. The Kramer building is energy inefficient, costly to maintain and lacks the safety and security measures that all students and staff should be assured.
In its endeavor to fill up the high school the BOE proposes to drop in a 15,000 s.f.office space for approx. 25 administrators costing $6 million dollars. It's apparent where the administration is concerned, students come second; 600 sq. ft per administrator at a cost of $240,000 each.
The same proposal allocates 185/ s.f. per student at an inordinate cost of $112,000 per pupil. The state will only reimburse the town 40% for administrative offices while town taxpayer pay the rest.
7. Reimbursement from the state means that my state taxes are now paying for the project along with my town taxes. Isn't Windham still paying for the entire project?
No. It is true that some of your state taxes will help pay for this project but the funding is coming from the tax pool across the state. If Windham isn’t using state funds to invest in the future of their children, another town will be.
2014 town percentage allocation: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2636&q=320552
Additionally State and to a lesser extent Federal taxpayer subsidize the day to day operations of school districts depending on their wealth.
While the average town taxpayer in Connecticut (2009-10) pays 62.3% of their district's daily bills Windham taxpayers contribute 28.2%. The State and Federal governments pay 35.4% of an average town's school expenditures while they pay 68.2% of Windham's coats. Tuition income makes up the remainder.
8. Did you consider closing the high school and sending all students to schools in another district?
To send 600 high school students to other regional high schools, Windham would pay approximately $8 million annually. This does not include the cost of special education. As the town will only be responsible for approximately $25 million project costs to renovate the high school as new, within nearly three years’ time, the town would have paid the amount in tuition to other schools that was needed to renovate Windham High School.
What is known, if the high school option is eliminated, there would be savings of a $25 million bond package, reduction of central office and high school managers, utility costs and upkeep savings of a 222,500/ s.f. building.
The Board has explored this option and it is not a financially viable one for many reasons.
We get more State money by renovating: Windham currently receives 69.29% reimbursement for New School construction, and 79.29% reimbursement for “renovating as new”. We also save more money by renovating: The cost for renovating like new is approximately $225/s.f.; building new is approximately $300/s.f.
Added to this would be the costs not carried with the projected renovation project: full demolition of the current building; a higher level of environmental, abatement, and site work costs; and building infrastructure costs.
Logistically there are many issues as well. If we built a new high school, we would need to build it for the projected population, and would lose many of the features we currently have. For example, with the current State space standards for school size based upon population, there is only enough space allowed for two assembly areas (gymnasium, auditorium, cafeteria, etc.). That means students would lose one of their current assembly areas and be left with a Gymatorium or Cafetorium.
The existing school is 222,518 s.f. and was built to accommodate around 1,200 students. To build to the full reimbursable amount allowed by the State space standards, a new high school to serve 600 students would be 90,000 s.f.
Further, those that put this Q&A together claim a new high school would require 90,000/s.f. . Actually according to State space standards the high school must be 111,000/s.f. (600 students X 185/s.f./ student)
A new high school mirroring Barrows School but meeting state specifications (111.000/s.f.) could be built on the current high school location or elsewhere for approximately $56 million. Barrows was built for $43 million.
10. I have trouble believing that the $1 million taxpayers spend every year will decrease if we remodel the school. Is this just an assumption?
Our current high school facility does not support 21st century teaching methods or the curriculum of the STEM or Humanities academies. Given the choice of a public school in town, that can adequately meet the needs of all students, the Board is confident more families will elect to send their students to Windham High and we could increase enrollment.
Additionally, judging by the overwhelming interest in the Charles H. Barrows Academy we can assume that there is great attraction to a state of the art educational facility. Renovating as new would give us a building that is comparable to Barrows.
It has taken over 2 decades to turn a once regionally respected high school into a poor performing school. Turn around will be slow if at all. We have seen hundreds of students leave the district over the past years. Will a $90 million renovation fix the problem?A shinny new school will only work if accompanied by academic excellence.
11. Why is the renovation of the high school estimated to cost more than the Charles H. Barrows Academy cost to build?
There are several reasons why there is a cost difference. Some of the largest contributors to the cost difference are the school size, school features and programs, and existing conditions in the building. Windham High School is 222,518 square feet. Barrows is 83,700 square feet. The high school has a pool, 2 gymnasiums, auditorium, etc… Barrows does not have all of those spaces. Barrows was able to create code and energy compliant conditions from scratch, whereas we will have to renovate existing conditions within the high school. Barrows did not have to deal with existing hazardous materials (PCBs, asbestos pipe insulation & mastic, etc.). The high school does. The high school has a distinctly different program(s) than a K-8 school. On top off that, the renovation of the high school and the construction of Barrows will be years apart. It's difficult to compare the cost of a bid and construct project from a few years back with one that will not happen for another few years.
(State average $500.00/s.f.) or $$70.608. per student. The high school proposed renovation for 800 students carries a price tag of $90 million, $405.00 s.f. (State av $280.00/s.f.) or $112,000/student.
(New England medium cost $75,000/student)
The BOE points out that there are extra ordinary expenses involved in renovating the high school due to various environmental exposures and demolition costs but neglects to address the savings of renovation over building new:
A new high school mirroring Barrows School but larger (111.000/s.f.) could be built on the current high school location or elsewhere for approximately $56 million.
If the town approves the high school renovation at referendum in November of 2014, construction would begin Summer 2016 and be completed in the summer of 2019.
Students would still be able to attend school at Windham High School while construction is ongoing. Students would be moved to one side of the building while construction is taking place on the opposite side.
Project costs are paid through state and town tax dollars. Should the community approve these projects at referendum, the state of Connecticut will pay approximately 80% of eligible project expenses. Postponing renovation could lead to more costly emergency repair work and create unsafe conditions for students and teachers. If we do not renovate now, the cost of renovating the building will continue to increase each year due to inflation.
Your taxes will be most affected in the year 2019. During this year, if you own a home worth $200,000 your taxes will increase by approximately $33.30 a month, the equivalent of 2 pizzas. If your home is worth $100,000 the monthly increase will be $16.60. In the years leading up to and after 2019, taxes will be less.
There goes the Pizza business in town.
By not addressing the building problems, our community will be affected in many ways. Community support of Windham’s schools indirectly helps to educate our children who will live and work in our community. Schools fill a number of service roles in the community; shelters, voting stations, and facilities for sporting events are just a few. Our community is better off when individuals take part in deciding the direction of one of our most valuable community assets. Up to date quality school buildings attract qualified teachers and provide students with tools they need to succeed in today’s competitive world. These qualities in our schools, make Windham an attractive place to live, work and raise a family; directly affecting the overall value of your property.
1. Go to referendum. The Board of Education anticipates bringing this issue to vote at a town referendum in November 2014.
2. Vote to pass the “renovate as new” project.
3. File the application form and educational specifications for our “renovate as new” project with the State.These are the foundation of the project. Architectural plans, conceptual drawings, models, etc. come later.
4. From the time the project is filed it takes approximately a year to go through the approval/budget process. During this time the town will hire an architect and construction firm.
Members of the community are encouraged to attend Board of Education School Planning and Design subcommittee meetings, which are open to the public. The Board of Education will hold periodic informational meetings and tours of Windham High School over the next several months. Notice of these events will be published in local newspapers and announced during Board of Education meetings. These meetings are broadcast on local public access television. www.windham.k12.ct.us/whsproject will post updates and information on the project.http://windhamsd.schoolinsites.com/?DivisionID=13711&DepartmentID=14201&ToggleSideNav=
"If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it,” Albert Einstein
The Windham School Board hasn't been sufficiently rigorous in defining the problems they’re attempting to solve and articulate why a $90 million high school renovation project is important . Without rigorous. correct problem solving and definition the board of education misses opportunities, waste resources, and end up pursuing innovation initiatives that aren't aligned with their strategic goals..We've seen many times a project go down one path only to realize in hindsight that it should have gone down another? How many times have you seen an innovation program deliver a seemingly breakthrough result only to find that it can’t be implemented or it addresses the wrong problem? Many organizations need to become better at asking the right questions so that they tackle the right problems. Paraphrased From
Listed below are several options the BOE has not addressed.The first four would be eligible for full state reimbursement. Number two, would probably need legislative approval and be very expensive but.would give back to Windham for years to come: