UPDATE, May 2018
In July, 2016, the Yarmouth School Department’s Facilities Assessment Committee convened its initial meeting to study and report on the conditions and capacities of the school facilities. The Committee worked with architects and engineers from Harriman Associates and other professionals to better understand how our facilities are currently meeting the needs of our students, and how we might best prepare for projected changes in enrollment and programming for the future.
In brief, the school buildings themselves are in very good shape while capacity is a growing concern. The investments made by the community approximately 15 years ago to upgrade and expand the schools are proving to be wise and economical, and ongoing maintenance has been effective at preserving the buildings and their systems. The most significant physical plant issues are at Yarmouth Elementary School – our oldest facility – and with our continually growing enrollment. Since 2008, enrollment district-wide has increased more than 17%, from 1,393 nine years ago to today’s student count of 1,636. A scientific study by an independent researcher indicates that this trend is not going to end soon, and by 2027 we may see enrollment of approximately 1,970 students. This is significantly higher than our total school building capacity and will require our earnest attention.
After a year of work, the Facilities Assessment Committee made its presentation to the School Committee on July 13, 2017 identifying six options to address the facilities needs of the district. The Facilities Assessment Committee recommended pursuing “Option 4”, which calls for:
- An expansion at Rowe School to accommodate enrollment growth in Kindergarten and Grade 1, as well as address the likelihood that the State will be mandating that local school districts become responsible for administering programs for 3- and 4-year olds who are currently served by Child Development Services.
- An expansion at Yarmouth Elementary School to accommodate enrollment growth, as well as a complete renovation of the existing facility to bring it up to current standards and ensure its viability for decades to come. As part of this project Grade 5 would be relocated to YES, reducing the scope of the construction project needed at the Middle School.
- A small expansion at Harrison Middle School to account for enrollment growth, allowing for the removal of the portable classrooms that have been on-site almost from the day the school opened.
- An expansion at Yarmouth High School to account for enrollment growth and evolving programming (e.g. robotics and STEM).
- Improvement of traffic flow, parking, and security at each building.
The School Committee approved the formation of a Facilities Committee to continue this work and held three public forums throughout the 2017-2018 school year to explain the results of the study, share the options studied, and hear feedback from the community. After hearing input from staff and community, the Facilities Committee has revised its plans as explained on the following pages (as of May 18, 2018).
At Rowe, additional classroom space is needed to handle growing enrollment. By September (2018), a portable unit will be installed on the site, with a seventh kindergarten classroom moving into what is the current art room. Music classes have already been displaced from a dedicated space, moving into the library. These shared spaces do not provide students with the high-quality experience expected of our schools. Adding to this dilemma is the call for local school districts to take over the pre-kindergarten programming that is currently provided by Child Development Services of Maine. This could bring an additional 60 students to Rowe School in the next two years.
To provide the spaces necessary to handle these additional students, Rowe School must grow by 7 classrooms, along with additional rooms for instructional support services and larger core spaces such as the library and cafeteria/gymnasium.
The lighter shaded areas represent portions of the building that would be renovated or altered to maximize efficiency. Making these changes at Rowe should put the school in good stead to handle enrollment growth and expansion of services to 3- and 4-year old students. Additional parking will be created along the Main Street side of the building, and security upgrades will include a more secure entry vestibule and upgraded surveillance and communications systems.
The capacity of the renovated school will be 266 in Kindergarten and Grade 1 with a projected 2027 enrollment of 228. The school would also accommodate up to 64 pre-K students.
As illustrated here, the entire existing building (lightly shaded) would receive upgrades to all systems (electrical/plumbing/building envelope/interior surfaces, etc.), while a large expansion would provide for the additional classrooms and core spaces necessary for a larger student body. By renovating and expanding the existing school, the Committee was able to preserve Winslow Field and play spaces along McCartney Street and reduce the overall cost of these projects significantly (as compared to construction of a new school to replace YES). Increased parking and improved security features will complete the transformation of YES into a modern facility.
The capacity of the expanded school will be 689, with a projected enrollment in 2027 of 612.
The Middle School will be the least impacted facility in terms of construction. By moving Grade 5 to Yarmouth Elementary School, the projected enrollment at HMS will drop to 479 in 2027. Currently, two portable classrooms bring the capacity to 525, while approximately 540 students are enrolled. By adding a small addition of classrooms to one end of the building and relocating music classes to new, appropriately-sized spaces at the other end of the building, the facility will meet the needs of up to 525 students.
One of the most significant issues to be addressed at HMS is the traffic pattern for buses and private vehicles. In the proposed plan, a separate bus loop will be created at one end of the school and a reconfiguration of the current loop in front of the school will provide for student drop-off and pick-up in a safe setting. In the illustration below, the proposed bus loop and relocated play area are on the left side of the plan. The visitor parking in the middle of the front loop will be closed off so that it will no longer be a thru way, and drop-off spaces will be created in the loop.
At the High School, the proposed solution addresses four main concerns: enrollment, parking, programming, and security. YHS is the only school in the district that does not provide a security vestibule connected to the main office for school-day entrance into the building. By relocating the main entrance to the Southeast side of the building (closest the large parking lot), a more secure entrance is created. An efficient plan for enrollment growth includes removing the fitness room from the center of the plan, allowing for expansion of the cafeteria. The fitness room will be recreated next to the gymnasium. Expansion of the performing arts areas will take place next to the Performing Arts Center, and a two-story classroom addition will extend off the current academic wing on the Northeast side of the building.
Areas shaded in orange on this diagram indicate spaces that will be re-assigned or renovated for new purposes. Moving the athletic offices to new spaces next to the gymnasium will provide space in the middle of the plan for needed guidance counselors and social workers, while other spaces throughout the school will be reassigned for purposes such as special education, robotics, and regular classrooms.
The capacity of the expanded school will be 654, which is very close to the projected 2027 enrollment of 653. Parking will be increased by adding spaces in each of the existing lots.
Opportunities for input
The School Committee will hear an update on these plans on Thursday, May 24 in the Community Room at Town Hall beginning at 7:00 p.m.
The Facilities Committee continues to hold meetings to finalize plans ahead of the public forums and the fall referendum. The remaining meetings on the Committee’s calendar are:
Wednesday, May 30 5:00 p.m. Superintendent’s Office
Wednesday, June 13 5:00 p.m. Superintendent’s Office
Two more public forums will be held in June, as the committee prepares for a November referendum on these projects. The June forums will be held as follows:
Tuesday, June 19 6:30 p.m. Yarmouth High School
Wednesday, June 20 8:30 a.m. Town Hall
More information about these projects may be viewed on the Facilities Committee portion of our website (http://yarmouthme.apptegy.us/o/ysd/page/facilities-committee). Your participation at the public forums is encouraged.
Please view the Presentation from Public Forum I - February 13, 2018.