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December Update from the Forestdale Reconfiguration Planning Team

by Stephanie Hall, Communications Commitee – Forestdale RPT
In our final meeting of 2014 (held 12-18-14), the Forestdale RPT members spent a significant portion of our meeting on our first agenda item titled, “Updates”. This included discussions, questions and some answers on a variety of notable items.

Members first discussed Mr. Smith’s article on Sandwich Learns Together regarding the philosophy, research and big ideas surrounding the establishment of the District’s proposed full day, free kindergarten. It was also noted that the implementation and cost of this program is a function of the FY16 Budget process. It will be important to stay tuned to the Budget Workshops (held every Wednesday in January) to get a sense of town-wide elected officials’ opinions and the voters will ultimately decide on the Budget in May.

We also discussed the proposed (capital) costs for Reconfiguration and noted the discrepancy in dollar amount between discussions held in the Spring of 2014 and the $250,000- $500,000 proposed costs reported recently in the Sandwich Enterprise from Dr. Canfield’s comments. Dr. Canfield explained to RPT members that costs would likely be $500,000, which included all upgrades and capital improvements (bathroom modifications, railing enclosures etc.) to both Oak Ridge and Forestdale, in addition to new safety enhancements recommended by the Sandwich Safety Committee.

Dr. Canfield also noted that $130,000 could be re-appropriated from the window sill repair. (must be approved by School Committee and voters at 2/9/15 Town meeting).

The remaining $370,000 necessary could potentially come from the Town’s “free cash” or could be a one-time tax bill (Budget workshops and Board of Selectman will determine specific warrant for 2/9/15 Town meeting) (Editor’s note: Subsequent conversations have clarified that the amount will come from “free cash” and there will not be a tax increase. The tax rate has already been set and cannot be changed at the Feb 9 Special Town Meeting.)

RPT members also got a glimpse into the very detailed task of planning the move out of the Wing School and physically reorganizing Oak Ridge and Forestdale, including their staff members and their belongings. Mr. Smith is developing an Inventory sheet for staff members to use to organize their own classrooms, as well as working with teachers to create a “model” classroom with furniture and supplies that will be available to each teacher. There was also a suggestion that teachers be able to have a “yard” sale of sorts to redistribute their own material that might not transition from building to building.

Mr. Smith also noted that he and Alan Hall were planning for classroom specific material moves by using a pallet system so that each teacher’s items arrived together, rather than separated in individual boxes.

Finally, Mr. Smith and Dr. Canfield addressed some questions that members shared, whether personally or as ambassadors for the RPT group. The following were asked and answered:

Q: Would class sizes go up to 27 next year?

A: No, class sizes will be kept similar in number to this year.

Q: Would there be more than one class per classroom?

A: No, plenty of classroom space.

 Q: Is there mold in the portables?

A: There is no mold in the portables. They are tested each year for mold. All HVAC units will be replaced for each portable in each school (meaning there will be new heat and A/C units for each classroom in the portable) as well as updates to paint and flooring. These costs are part of the $500,000 Reconfiguration costs which will be on the warrants at the 2/9/15 special Town Meeting.

The Administration hopes to be able to start work on the portables during the school year, as they are not currently in use at Forestdale and minimal usage (will relocate) at Oak Ridge.

There are four subcommittees working in the RPT also. These include Kindergarten Registration/Forestdale Entry, Playspace, Communication and Culture, Beautification and Atmosphere.

The Communication team identified the necessity of Talking Points regarding capital improvement needs for FY15 and FY16, in addition to suggesting that a further explanation of the overall Budget Process in Sandwich would be helpful to members and the community. Mr. Smith will work on this agenda item for a RPT meeting in the near future.

The CBA team discussed various items over the last two RPT meetings. They highlighted the importance of “Honoring our History” by leaving certain elements of Forestdale and bringing other cultural artifacts from Oak Ridge and Wing. (example, retain the Wildlife mural at FD, possibly bring the Thorton-Burgess Mosiac and some portraits from Wing?)

This team also discussed first impressions in the common spaces at Forestdale – they will be working with the credo, Beautify-Unify-Identify”. Suggestions include a new mural of a Sandwich scene in addition to TV/LED monitors with scrolling marquees in the entrance. They also discussed updates and renovations to the Main Office to make it more appropriate for the ages of incoming students.

In the 12/18 meeting, this team moved on to specific discussions regarding a motto for Forestdale (similar to the Compass Rose proposed for Oak Ridge) This team suggests “We are One, Under the Knight Sky” and possibly using natural elements in the decor. (Earth tones for painting, individual hallways designated with paint/murals to coordinate with theme – up to the stairs to the Sky wing, follow the Forest Hallway down to the Ocean Corridor, etc)

Our next meeting for the Forestdale RPT is this Thursday, 1/8/15 5:30-7:30 in the Library. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.