Last summer, our Board of Education members set a goal to analyze our buildings and grounds and to prepare a capital project for a vote within 18 months. That puts a potential vote to our taxpayers in December 2014. Over the course of my career I’ve been involved in capital projects at least five times, but this is my first experience with a project from the planning stages forward. It’s extremely exciting to consider how we can improve our facilities to better meet the needs of our students!
It’s interesting to watch the interaction and the thinking of a large group of people. Some come to the Facilities Committee with a special interest in adding something to our district that’s lacking while others want to make sure we’re caring for and maintaining what we have now. The BOE members have all expressed an interest in being good stewards of our facilities and grounds at the same time that they think about how to do so while keeping a project cost neutral for the taxpayers. There are items we have to consider as a result of our NYSED mandated building conditions survey. Things like boilers and a roof on the gym and repointing bricks aren’t as glamorous or as potentially controversial as a discussion on a school pool or a new soccer field but they are necessary.
What’s my interest in the project as the school superintendent? I’ve been saying for six years that I want to leave my mark on Randolph Central School District through a stronger instructional program–I’m an instructional leader first and foremost. But caring for our properties and planning for the future are also my responsibility. So I’m most interested in taking care of the mainstays, the workhorses of our buildings–things like boilers and rooftops. I also want to consider our learning spaces–how are they designed now (not much different than they were 70 years ago) and what will our students need in 2020 and beyond. So I’m thinking about this as planning for potential capital projects that may occur over the rest of my career here.
Immediately, I’m also keenly interested in improving our parking lots from the standpoint of traffic flow, zones for bus movement and student travel across campus. I want to figure out how to add additional spaces for our employees and our visitors. I especially want to improve available space for the many guests who come to events here. And I want the project to include the necessary items of our school community, not something in my own personal agenda that only remains important as long as I’m here.
Tonight at our larger Facilities Committee meeting with our architects and construction manager we’ll focus on a few main areas. The committee consists of students, teachers, administrators, support staff, community members and parents. I’m excited to hear their thinking as we analyze and plan for the future. We will talk about the parking lot traffic flow, the lack of parking, the bus garage and it’s limitations without a DOT approved lift system, the high school entrance and security, the performance arts spaces, common spaces like the libraries, the playing fields and the gym space. We’ll also consider the shared classroom spaces in the elementary school that are the result of bringing almost all of our special needs students home from outside placements–and the underutilized common areas there.
Thanks in advance to everyone who spends another evening with us tonight–5:30 in the HS library and yes Austin, we’ll have cookies again.