The Berlin Board of Education voted 9-0 to approve the current renovation plan for Berlin High School. The approval sends the plan back to the Public Building Commission, which will send the plan to the state if they sign off on it.
Dean Petrucelli, of Silver/Petrucelli + Associates, took the BOE and a small audience of citizens through the latest and hopefully final plan. He walked those in attendance through the changes from the initial plan, which came in over the approved $69.9 million budget approved at referendum.
Also on hand was project manager Tom Smith of Gilbane Inc of Glastonbury. FIP Construction of Farmington has also worked on the project.
"We have the contents of what we wanted with the referendum but the package looks a little different," BOE member John Richards said.
BOE President Gary Brochu said, "We are going to renovate as new. Add substantial space to the building. Use a lot of recovery of the building we already have as well as use better the space that is under-utilized. For the first time since the addition, which is 30 years old, we will have one unified academic space. We will have a building that handles our educational specs and program of students for approximately 1,100 students."
The biggest change from the original plan to the plan that was approved and sent back to PBC is the science addition will actually be part of the existing school and not its own addition.
"We saw right away once we came on board there was a budget problem as the construction costs were about $300 a square foot," said Smith of Gilbane. "We looked at swing space right away where we were going to put students while we were working," Smith said. "We looked at a portable building and found that it would cost in excess of $2 million and we would lose that space in about three years when the project was done. Instead of doing that we decided to use a pre-engineered building, put on a nice facade and blend that into the existing school. That would cost $2.4 million"
He was asked later how long the pre-engineered building would last.
"I don't know but I would guess it would last 50 to 60 years," he said. "It has to last 20 years guaranteed per the renovate-as-new project."
The pre-engineered building would be between the current tech ed space and the student parking lot. It would hold the tech ed classrooms and be about 12,600 square feet.
The English classrooms and Art rooms would take the space where the tech ed classes are currently. Consumer Science, child development and health classrooms would take the place of the current boys' locker room on the lower level.
The main entrance and administrative offices would be on the main or lower level. There will be a canopy and new face to the school once it is done. Social studies would also move down to the lower level, as would special education. The amphitheatre would be combined with a TV production studio.
The science wing will be in a ring round the south courtyard and a new greenhouse will be built in that courtyard. Math classrooms are adjacent to the science wing, in an L-shape. World languages will be along the east side wall.
The auditorium will be knocked down and made new. The stage will be triple the size of what it is now and the band, chorus and jazz ensemble rooms will all be near the stage and auditorium.
The media center will be reduced in size and parts of it will be used for team rooms, storage and computer labs.
Smith talked about the phasing of the project.
"We will start figuring out how we will hopscotch around the school once we start with the set of plans," Smith said. "I'm hoping we can get the project rolling in the late summer, early fall. We will be in constant communication with FIP, the Public Building Commission and the Board of Education as each of the phases comes up. This will be so we don't interrupt the student learning."