Tri-Town Hears Latest on NRHS Space… July 15, 2015
By Ann Needle
At last Wednesday’s Nashoba Tri-Town meeting in Lancaster, town and school administrators heard what Nashoba Regional High School needs right now to help alleviate overcrowding. The Nashoba Space Task Force, however, stressed that longer-term planning also remains crucial.
After meeting for a year and half, Nashoba Task Force Chair Bob Czekanski of Bolton reported NRHS has an immediate need for another Science lab, along with six additional general purpose classrooms. He stressed that these recommended spaces are called for regardless of any changes in the high school’s course offerings or number of students.
Czekanski explained that Science lab use is almost at capacity. This has left several students without their choices of Science courses, including 22 students closed out of a 5-credit accelerated (mid-level) Biology course last school year. Given the school’s more traditional Science classes with labs offer 4 credits, Czekanski pointed out, “These are students who want to stretch themselves. They’re looking to take on the additional work, and they’re not able to do it.”
As for the estimated number of classrooms needed, Czekanski reported the Task Force based its estimate on the number of teachers without an assigned classroom, along with the high number of students (about 100 per period) assigned to study halls. Of these, Czekanski noted that many are placed into spaces not designed for study, such as the auditorium foyer.
In determining the high school’s long-term space needs, the Task Force had requested that the Nashoba School Committee officially identify the scope of the NRHS curriculum, and commission a 15- to 25-year forecast of the student population, which the SC approved at a short meeting before Tri-Town. Looking at the curriculum, Czekanski noted that a comprehensive list of programs that mixes traditional classes with specialty areas — such as theater — calls for more classroom space.
Bolton Town Administrator Donald Lowe expressed doubt that a demographic study of potential trends 20 years out could be accurate. However, Czekanski maintained it should at least give an idea of student population within a high-low range. Also, Czekanski commented that voters faced with approving any expansion costs would likely want that information.
“I think you should try to solve existing problems, rather than trying to predict numbers that are not that accurate anyway,” argued Bolton resident David Lindsay. He suggested the district go ahead and put in the lab and classrooms, then look at the situation again in about 4 years. “Five years from now, we may have new problems that are serious,” he said.
Czekanski countered, “If we can project with reasonable confidence that there will be a problem in 5 or 10 years, then it makes sense to plan for that.”
If Nashoba seeks state funding for any project, then it will need to go through the MA School Building Authority approval process, Czekanski said. He also mentioned that the district should be aware that adding classrooms also is likely to mean adding teachers.
The New School Subcommittees
With the SC hoping to take a fresh look at some of the district’s biggest areas of interest, SC Chair Lorraine Romasco of Bolton announced some changes to the SC’s subcommittee roster. New this school year will be subcommittees on Technology, SEPAC (special education), and a pilot Facilities subcommittee. Among these new subcommittees, Stow Rep. Lynn Colletti has been assigned to Facilities and Technology, while Stow Rep. Nicole Odekirk will be on SEPAC. The SC also is looking into a potential subcommittee on student learning, she said.
Postscript: According to Lorraine Romasco, on July 9 Romasco and the Bolton selectmen unanimously chose Neal Darcy to replace the town’s vacant seat on the SC. This seat opened when Nancy Federspiel resigned from the SC on June 12, after defeating challenger Darcy for re-election in May. Darcy was one of only two candidates volunteering for the open position in Bolton.
Meanwhile, Lancaster Town Administrator Ryan McNutt reported no one has stepped forward there to be considered for that town’s vacant seat on the SC.