The Board of Education heard an update on the new $45 million, 86,000-square-foot Charter Oak International Academy building, which is projected to open in West Hartford in 2016.
Director of Finance and Planning Chip Ward laid out a timeline of what is scheduled to take place during the 2013-14 school year for the pre-K through 5 magnet school building. Ward said that the further out the timeframe, the more tentative the schedule was.
The contents of Ward’s presentation included the following:
September 2013 (The “Listening” Month) - the architect (New York-based Perkins Eastman) will take a day to observe the functioning of the current Charter Oak; the architect will meet with faculty representatives to flesh out the education spec and write a detailed educational program for the school; the architect will present a draft of the program for the school to the faculty representatives including visual diagrams of typical classrooms; the architect will meet with public safety officials to garner input for the design of the school; the architect will hold two listening sessions for parents and the community to help envision the building and hear their desires and concerns.
October 2013 (The “Concept Development” Month) - Architect will develop concept diagrams incorporating the educational program written with the faculty and the desires and concerns of the parents and community. Architect will reach out to planning and zoning and design officials. During the week of Oct. 28, the architect will meet with faculty, parents and the community to review the concept diagrams and collect feedback on those concept diagrams.
November 2013 (tentative) - At a school board meeting, the architect will present concept diagrams along with the feedback from the faculty, parent and community meetings.
Early December 2013 (tentative) - Architect will meet with faculty, parents and the community to review the one schematic design that is developing based on the concepts presentation and subsequent stakeholder feedback.
January 21, 2014 (tentative) - the architect will present the completed schematic design for approval, together with a detailed cost estimate, which will be provided by the Construction Manager.
June 2014 (tentative) - The final design for the new building will be submitted for board approval.
School board members expressed their excitement about the project, for which the state will pick up 80 percent of the cost, while the town is expected to pay around $9 million. But they also said they want to ensure that the entire West Hartford community, not just the Charter Oak community, takes part in the process, as the building will be a town building.
“The more people are engaged, the more excited they are,” school board Chairman Bruce Putterman said.
School board member Terry Schmitt, invoking a California bridge project that went billions of dollars over budget, also inquired how to ensure that costs don’t escalate out of control.
Hugh Schweitzer, the town’s capital projects manager, said that there will be frequent updates to the school board. Because it’s a town building, the town will also provide oversight.
In addition, Schweitzer said that the project will be locked into a “g-max” price, meaning that any construction cost overruns will be covered by the contractor, not the town or the state.
Schweitzer noted that the project is already thousands of dollars under budget with regard to architect fees.Finally, the memory of the construction of Bristow Middle School was invoked. Bristow, which opened in West Hartford in September 2005, was constructed on time and under budget.