Return to Headlines

BOE Summary of Conceptual Plan for Saxe Middle School Additions and Renovations Project

BOE Summary of Conceptual Plan
for Saxe Middle School Additions and Renovations Project

Project Overview: 

From 1997-1999, Saxe was renovated to educate a target capacity of 1200 students. Since the day the 1997 renovations were completed, Saxe enrollment has exceeded that 1200 capacity, and current enrollment is now close to 1300 students. By 2021-2022, enrollment is projected to grow to 1409, after which point it is predicted to remain steady and plateau. 

Over the years, these enrollment increases, compounded by state mandated programs and curriculum revisions, have led to many shifts in room use from the purpose for which they were designed and sized. For instance, 4 full size core academic classes had to be placed into smaller sized special education rooms, which resulted in relocating these special education classes into even smaller sized Team Rooms.  Additionally, the expansion of both mandated and desired programming (RTI Learning Center, READ 180 Lab, Visual and Performing Arts Lab, Mandarin and STEM) has added significant pressure on available classroom space.  In fact, because of these pressures, we will be converting one upstairs computer lab and the World Language Audio Lab into 7th grade classrooms to account for increased enrollment needs. Although these decisions have been necessary through the years due to increasing enrollment and programmatic changes, they represent compromises that were made due to the limitations of the facility. 

The Saxe Building Committee (SBC), comprised of town officials, school administrators, school officials, BOE members, and parents, was formed in the summer of 2014 to oversee the complete renovation of the Saxe Auditorium.   Since the fall, the SBC has worked with SLAM, an architectural and construction services firm with a specialty in education, to assess Saxe’s academic spaces as well as the auditorium. SLAM’s work has included interviewing stakeholders, reviewing state standards and best practices, creating an inventory of existing classroom spaces, and reviewing current classroom needs and future needs in relation to expected enrollment. Research also included committee members visiting middle school and high school auditoriums in the area. 

The SBC first focused on addressing the needs of the 58-year-old auditorium, which was not included in the 1997 project. The auditorium, a key instructional space for curricular and co-curricular programs, is in need of a full renovation and requires the addition of adjacent storage so that it can be more effectively used. Currently, the use of the stage for instructional purposes is limited because the risers and the acoustical shell are stored on it and there is no space to hold chairs and instrument stands for student use. Further, the auditorium has been closed as a precaution since December when the district learned that PCBs are present in the paint systems. 

SLAM identified the following recommendations for classroom expansion to meet the current classroom needs, maintain class size guidelines, and accommodate projected future enrollment without overbuilding:

1.     Addition of two classrooms and one science room for 5th grade

2.     Addition of five classrooms for 6th, 7th and 8th grade curriculum

3.     Addition of four special education resource classrooms

4.     Renovation/addition to properly size large and small musical instruction classrooms for band, orchestra and choir

5.     Adding auditorium related storage, increasing instrument storage spaces and adding practice rooms

6.     Full renovation of the auditorium

Based on the identified needs and working with the SBC, SLAM prepared conceptual floor plans for classroom additions and renovations to address the needs identified for existing and future enrollment. The recommendations follow a three-pronged approach: 

  1. Renovate the auditorium by installing all new lights, HVAC, seating, acoustics, sound, and AV; and update space to meet current ADA and life safety codes
  2. Add to and modify the southwest side of Saxe (near auditorium) to create two large space music education rooms for band and chorus, and add needed stage and instrument storage. The orchestra room moves into the larger band room.  This addition and resizing in the music classrooms spaces will improve function and alleviate congestion
  3. Add additional classrooms at the northwest end of Saxe (facing South and Farm Avenues) and move STEM classroom (currently in the music wing) into this new wing 

Two floor plan options for the northwest classroom expansion were presented at the BOE meeting on April 27:

Option A:

     12 classroom plus STEM two story expansion (13 total), which meets most of the needs

·       Meets classroom needs for 5th through 8th grade and Special Education, allows reclaiming of world language and computer labs, faculty multi-purpose/dining room, and faculty team rooms (used for parent and student conferences and testing, PPTs and faculty collaboration)

·       Excludes relocation of curriculum directors’ office and excludes reclamation of faculty workroom and copy room 

** Total estimated project cost: $16,900,000 which includes auditorium renovation, music classroom and storage addition and renovation, and two story northwest wing addition of 13 classrooms (12 new plus relocated STEM). (Northwest wing estimated at $9.6 million.) 

Option B:

                     7 classroom plus STEM classroom single story expansion (8 total), which meets some of the needs

·       Excludes one needed general classroom, four Special Education classrooms,

·       Excludes reclamation of team rooms, faculty workroom, copy room and relocation of curriculum directors’ office. 

** Total estimated project cost: $13,100,000, which includes auditorium renovation, music classroom and storage addition and renovation, and one story northwest wing addition of 8 classrooms (7 new plus relocated STEM). (Northwest wing addition estimated at $5.8 million.)