If all goes according to schedule, the design of the new will be completed by September.
Voters last June approved spending $92 million to build a new high school to address numerous educational deficiencies identified in the current high school.
The project calls for a three-story, 211,000-square-foot building that would be built on the site of the current high school on New England Road.
The state has approved reimbursing the town 31 percent, or $28.6 million, of the project’s costs, leaving the town to pay for the remaining $63.6 million.
The timeline for the project calls for construction to begin next year. Once the construction is completed the existing high school building will be demolished.
The town has been considering, in one form or another, building a new high school for nearly 10 years.
Though school officials had weighed the option of renovating the existing high school, they decided to build new instead because the existing school, built in the 1950s, was considered too outdated to renovate effectively and at a long-term savings to the town.
Some of the facility deficiencies that were noted in the existing high school include:
- The building does not meet the Educational Specifications for classroom spaces in a high performance high school
- Poor indoor air quality due to the lack of a ventilation system
- Undersized auditorium and cafeteria spaces
- Fluctuating indoor temperatures – areas lack reliable heat in the winter, air conditioning when the building becomes too warm and proper insulation
- High energy costs due to old systems and inefficient building layout
- Recurring major maintenance and the need to replace roofs, mechanical systems, and masonry repairs to walls
- One-story layout creates inefficiencies in traffic flow and security
- 1950s and '60s design does not support current teaching and learning research which requires flexible collaborative spaces for students and staff
- Current and future trends in technology and the sciences cannot be met
- Lack of space available and accessible for community use
- Environmentally responsible alternative energy resources do not exist
Some of the attributes that will be included in the new school are:
- “Hallways of Opportunity”: Circulation areas would be designed to encourage social gatherings and “observation of learning” throughout the building.
- Professional Learning Centers: Where cross-discipline staff can meet and work together.
- Transparency elements: Open areas where student work can be displayed.
- A Centralized “Commons” for food service: The design calls for placing the cafeteria in a centralized area to reflect that it is the social center of the school.