Thursday, August 27, 2015
By James Lomuscio
Click here for PDF of study
A Westport Board of Education commissioned feasibility study to expand Staples High School by 36,000-square feet to the tune of $21.2 million to accommodate a swelling student population will go to the school board Monday night, Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon said today.
He said the $20,000 study was commissioned by the board in May and was done by Elmsford, N.Y.-based architects Fuller D’Angelo P.C., the same firm hired for the expansion of the 1958-built school transformed to 465,000 square feet in 2005 at a cost of $73 million. The feasibility study was presented to school board members today, Landon said.
The current building was designed for 1,800 students even though the administration had pushed for a building with a 2,000 capacity but had to cut back for budgetary reasons, Landon said. He had said earlier that this year’s Staples enrollment was about 1,900 and that the school has been overcapacity for several years. (See WestportNow Aug. 24, 2015)
According to the report, Landon and school administrators favored the architects’ Concept B, which would add 36,320-square feet to the current building. It includes 15 new classrooms for math, languages, computer engineering, robotics, health and physical education, lectures, dance, conference rooms, teacher work rooms, special education and cafeteria expansion, as well as infrastructure upgrades.
Landon said that the project’s cost of $21.2 million would be offset by about $2 million in state grants, costing the town about $19 million
The architects’ report also quotes Landon’s projections that “Staples High School will continue in the 1900 student population range for at least the next six years.”
“Currently, when you look at our programs needs and projections and the high growth/stability rate of our student population rate at Staples, it is clear than an expansion for Staples is a vital necessity if we are to continue to prepare Westport’s children for the 21st century and beyond,” Landon is quoted in the report.
The architects say that the report is an informational guide to address the growing population, as well as to “provide additional educational programs and meet increased state graduation credit requirements for all students.”
“Staples High School currently has the top five highest enrollment for all high schools in the state,” the report says. “An expansion plan requires to be engaged to keep Staples at a high level of service to students, staff and the community.”
School board member Mark Mathias said tonight that the board will be studying and reviewing the report for when it meets Monday.
“Obviously, we’re looking at what to do with the number of students at Staples,” he said.
Posted 08/27/15 at 10:53 PM Permalink
CommentsYou must have a Facebook account and be logged to this account (login/logout button above) to post comments. Comments are subject to our Comment Policy.
There is always moneys to be found for the schools… The Senior population is booming, 20% of Westport residents are now seniors, and getting money for Senior Housing is like pulling hens’ teeth. Why don’t the new Staples go to other towns like the Seniors are forced to do?
It all has to do with our economic system, Ms. Crane-Baker. Top schools keep real estate values high, and thus indirectly benefit everyone financially. Senior housing, on the other hand, benefits only seniors.
Some would argue that money isn’t everything. It’s quite clear our super-high property costs are problematic, “forcing” many seniors to move rather than age in place, and leaving us without elder-wisdom on our town boards and in the voting booths. But it’s hard to change course midstream. People have sunk a lot of money into houses in the last few decades, and they expect to get it back.
And, perhaps most important as regards the Baron’s South planning, there is no land “giveaway” with schools.
It doesn’t appear as if the option of making Staples a three year high school again is being considered.
Can’t Staples share some space with next-door Bedford Middle School? Or is that overcrowded, too?
The 2005 renovation of Staples is discussed in the book:
The Influence of Affluence: How the New Rich Are Changing America
It appears that the renovation was scaled UP from 1650 students to 1800 students at that time. I don’t find evidence for the idea that the administration fought for a facility to house 2000 students.
Really, the building was designed for 1800 students we’re at 1900 and we can’t figure out how to make that work without spending $30M ? As an architect, I have a really hard time believing this expenditure is justifiable. If you add up the commitment the taxpayers of this town have signed up for over the last 10-15 years, it is over one half BILLION dollars in capital improvements invested in every school building in this town. Also, we would need to take a very hard look at enrollment projections for the next 10 years before any school construction expenditures could be agreed to. Finally, enough with the real estate values; it is the quality of the teachers and the participation of the parents that make our students successful, not the bricks and mortar of the classroom.
Joseph Vallone says it better than I do.