By: Art Gopalan
I thought it might be useful to disseminate some pertinent information about the proposed Hampton Academy renovations. I was a school board member from 2011-14 and served on the buildings committee in 2011-12. At that time, I examined the architects’ report on the building and its deficiencies. The new recent report does not differ from the prior report in terms of deficiencies and therefore my assessment is relevant.
At that time, a brand new school building was proposed on the Towel Farm road site for a cost of $28M excluding the all the road work and other public access issues. The board had considered it but voted against moving forward, instead opting for renovation of otherwise sound Hampton Academy building. I had presented to the board a detailed plan, floor by floor, addressing all the deficiencies including the inadequacy of the auditorium and the music room. It did not require dismantling of the 6th grade wing. The plan would have met all the state requirements except for the 15-acre requirement of open space. It was concluded that a state waiver can be obtained for it by including the Tuck Field as it was used by the school district and pointing out many of the urban schools would not meet that generous requirement.
The plan that I had proposed was cost estimated by the architects group (Harriman) at about $12M. The plan could be executed stretching over 4-years, working during the summer months to minimize disruption and inconvenience.
My concern was that we needed to change with the rapid infusion of technology in aiding learning on an individual needs basis and not invest extraordinary funds in brick and mortar based on yesterday’s method. We must make the Academy building safe but not plush.