Board looks at new high school options

Published: Friday, February 27, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — Preserving 25,000 square feet of space at Guilford High School would only shave $2 million to $4 million off the more than $112 million cost of replacing the school, architectural consultants told the Board of Education Thursday.

Board members had hoped to significantly reduce the cost of a new school by incorporating the math and science wing built in 1998. Architects from Fletcher Thompson said Thursday they will continue analyzing the numbers and hope to reduce the price.

The architects offered the board two options for including the 25,000-square-foot wing and saving the football field and track.

The first, with a cost estimate of $108 million, would be more compact, but place classrooms on either side of the building. The second plan, with a preliminary price of about $110 million, would have classrooms closer together and a large interior courtyard.

Board members did not make a choice between the options. Chairman William Bloss suggested holding a joint meeting with the boards of Selectmen and Finance next month to discuss a timeline for putting the project before voters at a referendum.

“I would remain hopeful that there is a greater savings” in preserving the existing space, Bloss said.

Initial estimates had put the cost of a new high school, built next to the current school and eliminating the football field and track, at $112 million. The school board voted last year to recommend replacing the school, and decided earlier this year to direct the architects to preserve the math and science wing and the recently installed football field.

The existing wing would need some renovations to make it part of the larger project, and there would be significant site work involved in replacing septic and sports fields, leading to the high cost estimates even with the reused space, the architects said.

The two options presented Thursday include between 220,000 and 230,000 square feet.

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella said the initial goal was to look at the feasibility of building a new school off the math and science wing.

“I think we’re comfortable that it can be done,” he said. “We would hope to see more savings than $2 (million) to $4 million.”

Board members expressed enthusiasm about the architectural plans, but noted that they are likely to change. The current proposal has construction ending in 2012.

“I think that while this is all interesting, it’s still preliminary, and we still have a lot of work to do to move this forward,” board member Alan Meyers said. “What we end up with may not look anything like this.”

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