Board receives building condition survey, facilities update

At its December 12 meeting, the Board of Education received an update on the condition of the district’s facilities and discussed a possible capital project for their improvement.

Conducted by Synthesis Architects and M/E Engineering, the report outlined priorities in Infrastructure, Safety and Security, Improvements to support Educational Program, and Long Range Organizational Improvements.

In the Elementary School, priorities include replacing the aging boilers with more energy efficient units, replacing failing sidewalks, rebuilding exterior stairs and ramps, replacing air handling/ventilation equipment, and replacing several areas of roof.

In the Secondary School, priorities include repairing exterior walls, replacing limited exterior doors, recoating some roof area, replacing the remaining corridor lockers, and improving the communication infrastructure by replacing the outside phone switch and intercom PA system.

Improvements that would support educational program include renovating the Elementary School cafeteria for multi-use space, increasing and improving space to support more inclusive Special Education, and creating dedicated science space in the Elementary School.

Improved acoustics for the band and library areas are proposed for the Secondary School, as are project-based-learning Special Education spaces, and maximizing space for large-group instruction and opportunities for small-group and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Though the architects identified $16 million to $17 million in potential improvements, Board President Matt Tedeschi is quick to note that the scope of any project has yet to be finalized, and will weigh the needs of our students, staff, and taxpayers.

“It has taken the district about a year and a half to prudently conduct the Building Conditions Survey, and we’ve had presentations and discussions about it as far back as last December, but this is far from a finishing point,” said Tedeschi. “This is where we start the conversation with the community about what type of school we want Berne-Knox-Westerlo to be. Many of these updates are necessary to ensure the safety and security of our students and staff, but I believe we also need to discuss what improvements we need to make to accomplish our goal of developing programs to support student learning and student achievement.”

The Board of Education meets again on Monday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.