Baldwin school board to receive recommendation on BJHS auditorium reuse
On Tuesday morning, eight Baldwin Junior High School students were crowded around about the same amount pieces of exercise equipment in what was once the front office of Baldwin High School. Meanwhile, an equal number of students were working out on equipment in to adjoining smaller rooms.
“We’re packed in here like sardines,” said junior high physical education instructor Ted Zuzzio. “We have five more pieces of equipment down in the basement we can’t get in here.”
On Monday, the Baldwin school board is expected to make a decision, which would address the crowding in the junior high weight room and start the long-discussed redesign of the junior high school’s little-used auditorium.
The issue of district facilities has been on the board’s plate since April when it received recommendations for district administrators concerning the future uses of all district properties.
The board rejected that report’s suggestion that new facilities be built should activities and programs have to be relocated with the sale of district properties. Instead, board members said that current unused or under-used facilities should be remodeled as homes for displaced programs. Topping the board’s list for potential reuse was the junior high school auditorium made redundant with the spring 2011 opening of the Performing Arts Center.
In October, the board appointed a steering committee of board members Ruth Barkley, Chad Christie and Sheryl Gill to study the issue further and make recommendations to the board. That came after district architects met with junior and high school staff members and had a public forum on possible reuses of the auditorium.
Superintendent Paul Dorathy said the steering committee had met twice and was ready to make a recommendation to the board about how the auditorium should be reused so that DLR could compete plans for the remodel.
That recommendation would be to remodel the auditorium into space for a multi-use/wrestling facility, added space for the junior high school’s band and vocal music rooms, and the addition of two classrooms and “badly needed” storage space, Dorathy said.
The committee would also recommend the existing walls be removed from junior high weight lifting room, which would create a more functional space and allow use of a current storage room. The need in the weight-lifting room was identified when the architects meet with junior high staff, who found the space to be set aside in the proposed remodeled inadequate for that purpose.
The board has available $600,000 of unused funds from the 2008 bond issue to pay for the improvements.
“I’ve told the group, ‘That’s our budget. We can’t go over that,’” Dorathy said.
In October, Doug Loveland, project manager with the district’s architectural firm DLR Group, presented the board with cost estimates of three options to remodel the auditorium. All options would create a 3,365-square-foot multi-purpose room, carve out 775 square feet for storage and add two classrooms and two bathrooms. All three plans still showed a 970-square-foot weight room in the remodeled auditorium, although Loveland acknowledged staff had recommended the changes to the existing site.
The cheapest option had an estimated price tag of from $475,000 to $500,000, but did not include the improvements to junior high music rooms. The other two more expensive options include all the improvements that are to be listed in the steering committee’s recommendation. However, the most expensive option appears to be too costly with its $700,000 to $800,000 estimated price tag.
A third option has an estimated cost of $565,000 to $650,000 and cuts the cost of the most-expensive option by reducing the size of the band and vocal music rooms from a total of 2,685 square feet to 1,857 square feet.
At the October meeting, Loveland established a timeline that could have the auditorium remodeled in time for the start of school next August, with the bulk of the work done during summer vacation.
Dorathy said the board would be on track to meet that schedule if it approves on Monday a recommendation for DLR architects.
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