As The Valley Reporter goes to press on September 5, the Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) Board executive committee is presenting four options for renovations at either Harwood Union Middle School and/or Crossett Brook Middle School to the public and fellow board members.
At an Executive Project Committee meeting on August 30 at Harwood with principals, board members and other faculty present, architectural firm TruexCullins, Burlington, presented four different middle school renovation ideas to the committee. The firm also presented feedback from the last workshop it held from community members that contained ideas, concerns and possible visions for the renovation.
Part of the project is visioning for the best middle school possible. To help with the process of planning, the board recently hired ReArch to manage the construction project. The middle school work is envisioned in part of the bigger Harwood renovation, which is expected to result in a $21 million bond vote next year.
In the first proposal (1), renovation would happen at the Harwood middle school with no work done at Crossett Brook, with no change in student status quo. Students would stay at Harwood with an addition of two wings, one on either side of the existing middle school with a renovation to the existing middle school space. There would be team spaces and administrative suites and the space would be self-contained, this plan costing an estimated $7,035,929 – subject to change.
The second option (1a), would be renovation and additions to Harwood Union Middle School with no work to Crossett Brook, with the proposed wings, a new gym space attached onto the building and 10,000 feet of renovation to the already existing middle school; this space would be self-contained.
The option along with the new gym would have an eating area for the middle school and new classrooms for health, art and music. This renovation would cost an estimated $12,498,688 – subject to change.
Option (2) would have work only done at the Harwood middle school and include the addition of a second floor on the existing building. The renovation would be the same as the proposed (1a) with an elevator access to the second floor. All seventh- and eighth-grade students would attend Harwood Union Middle School, and Crossett Brook Middle School would host the fifth- and sixth-grade students from the entire district. This would mean the addition of new staff to accommodate the influx of students. Those present at last week’s meeting pointed out the dire need of more parking spaces. This plan would cost an estimated $17,471,489.
The fourth and final plan that TruexCullins proposed was a plan focused solely on Crossett Brook Middle School. This plan would have all middle school students in the district, grades five through eight, attending Crossett Brook, and would include a new addition with a second floor, an art room, an option for a second-floor makerspace, an administration space renovation and a new electrical room that ReArch recommended.
PARKING A CONCERN
Parking was the larger concern for the committee as they would lose the gravel lot in the addition and they would need to accommodate the new staff. TruexCullins and ReArch added to their notes to find space for 80 additional parking spots. The cost of this renovation would be $7,925,688 – subject to change.
At the end of the meeting, after the executive committee aired their concerns with some of the projects as well as offered input to additions and changes, members discussed the best way to present the information for the scope of work as well as the input included in the presentation from the previous workshop to community members at this week’s meeting.
A successful bond vote in March 2019 would mean a construction start in 2020 and completion in autumn of 2021.
The Harwood Union Unified School District Board voted at its May 16 board meeting to revive efforts to develop a proposed bond for Harwood. Discussion and work on this project had been set aside in 2015 when the district’s six towns kick-started the Act 46 merger process. Since then the board has moved forward with working with the architectural firm.
The TruexCullins workshop, held on June 21, included school board members as well as two residents from each town participating in the visioning exercise. In addition to the participating members, the workshop was well attended with educators, students and other community members present. The visioning workshop is a precursor to a $21 million renovation at Harwood Union aimed at bringing the school up to code and improving the educational experience for students.