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The Board of Education listened to a presentation of solutions to its short-term facilities needs for September 2001, at the Nov. 14 board meeting. Architects from the firm of the Spector Group, who will most likely be hired as the district's architect shortly, made the presentation. The board is contemplating including the cost of addressing the short term needs into the bond for the long-term facilities plan. If they can and do decide to do this, the bond referendum could be voted on at the end of January 2001.

Identifying and analyzing the September 2001 space needs of the district, the firm's Michael Spector and Michael Mannetta advised that six classrooms are needed at Weber, four are needed at Guggenheim and two are needed at Manorhaven.

The architects reported that they approached the short term plan with an eye to including as much of a long-term plan into a short term one. They noted that this can best be achieved with brick and mortar, however, new rooms probably wouldn't be ready until late next year, in the best case scenario.

The architects explained that exacerbating the current construction time delays is the fact that for the next year and a half or so school construction throughout the state will be at an all time high, making it almost impossible to start projects at this late date. However, on the bright side, Mannetta pointed out that by the time the district gets into brick and mortar construction, prices may be down because the other districts will have completed their work.

The other option is portables or modulars. Mannetta said that this is the Úquot;way to go.Úquot; He advised that portables can be used permanently, semi-permanently or temporarily, and be on line for September 2001. The costs for portables range from $60,000 to $160,000 per unit. They can be purchased or leased,, and, if necessary, be relocated to another school.

In his slide presentation, he showed a high-end, well-lit, attractive modular portable which he said Úquot;could still be here 40 years from now.Úquot; He suggested that the board consider these if they could be placed out of sight, toward the back of the facility.

Speaking about Weber, Mannetta stated that this building is the most aesthetically satisfying facility in the district, calling it the Úquot;jewelÚquot; among the district's facilities. He recommends that any permanent changes made to the building should maintain its neo-classical flavor. Úquot;Aesthetics shouldn't be compromised,Úquot; he stated.

Temporarily, he said, portables could be used at Weber.

He's also investigating building in some attic space above the gym. Another option he suggested is to build a two story addition of 16 classrooms, eight on each floor by the side of the building.

In terms of reopening Salem for September 2001, Mannetta said it's not possible. Apparently, in the eyes of the State Education Department (SED) the facility is considered a new school now because it has not had students in it for about 15 years. (The building has been used only for administrative and operations purposes over the past several years.)

With the SED's Úquot;new schoolÚquot; designation, Salem is now subject to all other requirements set down by the state for a 2000 building. For example, Salem must now be American With Disabilities Acts) ADA compliant --- which includes installing two elevators, and also remove all asbestos.

The building also needs new boilers, a public address system and a new gym floor, among other things.

Úquot;It couldn't make the timeline,Úquot; Mannetta advised.

The board will now consider its options.

Many residents have already said they will not support the plan up for adoption because they don't like the one large middle school at Weber. In Larry Greenstein 's view, Úquot;The plan is going to make us a second rate district...Úquot;

Ellen Fox reminded the board that the vast majority of members of the HSAs and PTAs have stated that they're not willing to vote to approve the long-term plan currently being considered. She asked how they expect to get short-term solutions in place in time, if they are tied into a bond that the voters, who would be the ones most likely to support it (parents), won't.

Pam Goldman agreed, noting the short term costs will be incorporated into a sizable bond, perhaps $50 million, which she feels the voters won't approve. She urged the board to develop two separate bonds. One for the short-term facilities needs, and then, as the board members won't have to rush, a well-thought out long-term plan

Board President Richard Sussman advised, however, that there could be legal problems with doing this, noting that the board is seeking further clarification from the district's attorney.

David Strom questioned the feasibility of obtaining community input in time to realistically get a bond together to meet the timeline to get the short-term solutions on line for September. He is also doubts the board's ability to achieve consensus on plans that need to be voted on by January.

He's also stated strongly that he's very concerned over the Úquot;horrible conditions,Úquot; that currently exist at Weber.

From the floor, Larry Greenstein told the board that the bonds will Úquot;both fail together.Úquot;

Nancy Cowles asked that the new architect rework the original proposal that made Sousa the one middle school.

A few residents criticized the architect's presentation because it didn't take into account some long-range considerations. Dr. Inserra stressed that the architect's charge for the presentation made at this particular meeting was only to analyze the short-term needs for September 2001.


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