By Meg O’Neil
The addition of two new classrooms at the future Claiborne deB. Pell Elementary School, which are meant to ease the possibility of overcrowding, will require a heftier price tag than originally thought.
Project Manager James Farrar of Farrar & Associates presented the findings during a Newport School Committee meeting held on Tuesday, June 26.
According to Farrar, when initially approved by the school committee several months ago, the cost of the two additional classrooms was $350,000. The two classrooms were added when it was revealed that despite several years of decreasing enrollment, a drastic increase had occurred in the last two years, bringing the Pell School close to its 840-student capacity. The two additional classrooms would house an additional 50 students.
Now, the cost of the two classrooms will cost $525,000. Farrar attributed the increase to the fact that when the general contractor initially prepared the cost estimate, “he didn’t have any real number to base it on.”
The $525,000 will come out of the school’s construction contingency fund, which is used when unforeseen circumstances arise in the design and construction process. Farrar said that the project originally had a contingency fund of $2,016,090. By the end of Tuesday’s meeting, the number dropped to $1,266,846. Farrar said, “With a project of this size, you’ll be eating through contingency. This is a great spot to be at this time.”
In addition, the school committee also voted to approve a change order from the RI Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) in regard to the new school’s drainage system, a cost of $75,800.
Farrar went on to discuss other updates on the project, notably to the school’s kitchen, where the size of the walk-in freezers had been reduced by six inches. The freezers were reduced in size because when the door was fully opened, the end of the door allowed only 10 inches of walking space between a nearby work station. With the redesign, there is now 16.75 inches of walking space. There is also now the ability to move several of the workstations.
Overall, Farrar described the activity level at the Dexter Street site as, “very strong.” The building’s foundations are going in, as are plumbing and electrical services. He also said that the site is getting ready for the structural steel to be delivered toward the end of July.
In other business:
---Last week, the school committee learned that Rogers High School was going to remove Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry from the 2012-2013 school year class schedule because only eight students had registered for the class. Instead, they decided to offer it on an every-other-year basis.
After the eight students were told that the class would not be offered, several registered for other classes, dropping the class size to four students.
At Tuesday’s meeting, school committee chairman Patrick K. Kelley commented, “I can’t believe we’ve gotten to the point where we are eliminating AP courses … we have lost the bubble on the academic rigor at the high school.”
School committee vice-chair Rebecca Bolan pointed out that new military families to the area would be disappointed to see that the class may not be offered in the fall. She believed more students would register for the class before the start of the school year.
Instead of cancelling the course, the school committee voted that Supt. John H. Ambrogi and Rogers Principal James Nelson determine a plan to continue to offer AP Chemistry for the 2012-2013 school year, and a policy for future school years that would rotate the offering of AP Chemistry and AP Biology.
---When instructors of the Newport Area Career and Technical Center’s carpentry program brought their 1989 Ford van to the city yard for its regularly scheduled maintenance, the van was deemed “past repair.”
The school committee voted to purchase a multifunctional, narrow-body 14-seat bus for the carpentry program, whose students often travel off campus to complete projects. Because it is no longer legal to transport students in 15-seat passenger vans, the school department had to find the specially-made vehicle. The $39,000 van was purchased from New Britain, Conn. and will arrive in roughly three months.