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Buildings and Grounds Committee approves concept for ACS renovations

NEW WINDOWS are currently being installed in parts of Alton Central School as part of ongoing renovations. (click for larger version)
July 21, 2010
ALTON — The Alton Building and Grounds committee met Thursday, July 15, to approve the concept for updating, renovating and restoring the existing Alton Central School.

Thad Guldbrandsen started the meeting discussing the changes that the construction committee would like to see in place for the school. A third floor would be added to the wing off of the patio, keeping the same foundations but adding additional classrooms. "We need more information about building that additional floor," said Guldbrandsen. "And what are the ramifications of that."

The board members all agreed that having additional classrooms for the school to "grow" into would be nice, looking down the stretch of 20 or so years. Guldbrandsen and the committee agreed that having the extra classrooms available for storage in the near future and additional class space down the road would be important to consider when looking at the town's growth rate. "This issue would be worse off if we didn't prepare for growth," said Superintendent Kathy Holt.

Architect Chip Krause presented the board with a drawing laying out the potential school and grounds plan, which emphasized a new plan for traffic flow. "There are some disadvantages but we don't have many options here," said Krause. The renovations would help with traffic flow at the back of the building, with more parking on the access road leading out back.

Krause also wanted to keep parent drop off separate from the bus route to avoid traffic congestion and increase safety. With this safety precaution, a majority of parking would be further from the school. "It's a lot safer I think and it's prompted by the fact we are not working with much land," said Krause. In addition to rerouting traffic, traffic speed was also a concern of committee members. "I think speed bumps are a good solution," said Holt.

The current gymnasium was a focus in the new plans as well. "We would keep the old gym and use it as a multipurpose room," mentioned Krause. The new gym is drawn to be located where the gymnasium parking is currently. Having the old gymnasium, with additional upgrades and renovations would open up many possibilities for the school.

"In the gym now, that people have been playing on for 40 years, doesn't have much additional safety room," said Krause.

He also suggested leaving the basketball hoops and stage and possibly using the space as a cafeteria. "This would allow for only two lunch periods rather than four," Krause mentioned, in an attempt to alleviate the current problem with lunch. "Students are starting to eat lunch before 11, I don't know many kids, or adults that can get through the day eating lunch so early," said school board member Terri Noyes.

The gym space could be used for other purposes as well, such as a space to hold music classes and other smaller events because the stage will still be in place. "We will still have Prospect Mountain for major productions," agreed Peter Bolster.

Leaving the space flexible is an advantage Krause explained. "The other advantage is that it's a huge swing space and it won't be wasted," he said.

The multimedia center will be changing the look of Alton Central School, according to the most recent plans where the library would be round. "It's easier to get light into the middle and it's aesthetically more pleasing and no one gets put in the corner," Krause pointed out. Concerns about cost arose when discussing the aesthetics of the building.

A gazebo was drawn to become part of the front entrance allowing teachers on bus duty to get out of the elements. "This way teachers can be on bus duty and not have to stand in the rain or the snow," Krause said.

With additional costs potentially coming into play in the round structure's foundations there were concerns over if all the bells and whistles were necessary. "I am against the round 100 percent. I think to put something out there for no reason is pointless," said Steve Parker. Krause assured the committee that the structures don't have to be round but that the concept is what they were going for at this point in time. "Realize we want people to start thinking of concepts," said Krause. "Not necessarily circle, triangle or square."

The committee passed the motion for the concept of the renovations to Alton Central School in a unanimous vote. "There will be many nuances and changes as we go along. This is not concrete but this is a concept to show the school board so we can move on," said Frank Dahle.

With many new changes slated to occur, Krause assured the committee that there would be many features staying the same, including the athletic fields, bus route out front and all entrances to the school except for the main entrance.

The renovations have already begun to get under way, starting with the middle school bathrooms and replacing windows.

"I don't want people to think that we are renovating all of this stuff this summer just to have it torn down during other renovations," said Krause "What we are renovating currently, the windows and bathrooms, will not be touched during renovation."

Building aid for 2012 was also a concern for committee members with the state helping to fund renovation projects for schools that do not pass regulations. "Alton Central School isn't falling apart and we don't have safety issues," said Holt. "I don't think we'll get an exemption."

The committee proved to be concerned over the financial burden the renovations would leave and how much aid the state would be able to give the school. "We are not one of the towns that needs the money," said Bolster. "We are not a poor school district." With funding still being hashed out, the committee was excited to bring the concepts to the school board.

The plans will be brought to the school board on Aug. 23 and the next Building and Grounds Committee meeting will be Aug. 19.

Littleton Chmber
Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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