I'm going to summarize the professional advice that the Board of Education has received here, but you can read actual reports online, and at the bottom of this post, you will find links to the original reports. There are two reasons that the District is seeking to upgrade our two high schools. The first, perhaps the most important, is the need to provide our students with 21st century learning spaces. But this post focuses on the urgency of the undertaking: because Technical High School has outlived its useful life.
Three different reports on the condition of Technical High School from architects, consultants and local general contractors all point to the same conclusion. Local general contractor Gohman Construction advised us that the school remodeling would require a costly overhaul that would substantially exceed the cost of building new, while still leaving the high school on a small land parcel far below state standards for a new high school. (Click here for original Report). Among the required construction work would be:
- Asbestos abatement - in everything from floor covering, glue, caulking and mechanical systems.
- Ceiling demolition to create access.
- Complete electrical system replacement - manufacturer of current service panels are no longer in business.
- Removal of slab on grade to allow access to sewer lines (existing sewer lines collapsing).
- Replacement of plumbing and sewer system.
- Replacement of HVAC system duct work and piping.
- Replacement of windows and entrance doors.
- Remodel stairways to meet ADA codes
- Removal of combustible wood from building to meet codes. (The 1915 and 1938 buildings are complete wood structures with brick veneer. How this can be addressed within the codes is unknown.)
- Pool modifications to meet new codes.
- New finishes throughout to bring up to modern standards
In its report, (click here for the original) RA Morton, an experienced construction general contractor wrote:
It is our opinion that the Tech High School building can be viable for other community or re-development purposes but has gracefully outlived its effective purpose for educational programs without substantial cost and phasing challenges to renovate.By phasing challenges, RA Morton refers to the fact that trying to rehabilitate Technical High School would interrupt school and likely involve finding a different location for students and classrooms during the various phases of construction. RA Morton estimated that the construction would involve two costs. The first set of costs, $78 million, represent the estimate of simply renovating and updating mechanical/electrical systems. The high cost represents in part the cascading effect of having to replace old infrastructure all of which was constructed under far different construction and safety codes. The second set of costs would be cost associated with major reconfiguration of educational programming space. And, as the Gohman report explains, reconfiguration in a building with weight bearing internal walls is tremendously challenging.
In April, a group of architects, consulting engineers and local contractors toured the Tech site with the board of education's finance committee. You can find a copy of the report of what was found by clicking on this link. The report contains a detailed discussion of the challenges posed by Tech High School:
ICS, a nationally recognized construction consulting firm with school construction experience wrote the following, after the site visit:
The facility is a product of many decades of “reactive” renovation which has resulted in a very disconnected and disjointed facility. It is possible to “re-create” a new 21st Century Tech HS on the current site, but this strategy would result in more overall cost, difficult and disruptive phasing, added complexity, and would still be saddled with inherent limitations and compromise due to site constraints and other factors.An architect from GLT architects wrote:
Extensive infra-structure issues exist including heating, ventilation, electrical, and plumbing systems. Significant educational space adjacency issues throughout the various vintages of the facility limiting the ability to appropriately organize curricular departments due to space constraints. Major circulation, way-finding, occupant flow, and accessibility issues leading to excessive passing times and lost instructional time.
Varying structural systems (including extensive areas of wood structure) within the various vintages of the facility resulting in added complexity and costs associated with any major renovations and/or improvement project. Grossly limited 8 acre site resulting in inadequate parking, poor access, and limited green/activity space. Rigid building configuration resulting in the inability to readily re-organize to facilitate/enable 21st Century flexible learning communities and opportunities.
Bearing wall construction severely limits the ability to re-organize to facilitate/enable 21st century flexible learning communities and opportunities without significant demolition and reconstruction. Although it is theoretically possible to create a new 21st century tech high school on the current site, this strategy would require acquiring additional property, relocation of existing major city utilities, demolition of a significant portion of the existing building, major demolition and reconstruction of the existing facility to remain. That would require additional phasing (and years) to accomplish without disruption of instructional time. Even so, the site would still have many of the inherent limitations and compromises due to site constraints.
For further information go to the District Bond Referendum website or to the VoteYes
site, or both.
Finance Committee Report .
RA Morton ReportClick Gohman Report