Panel recommends MAUHS renovations

BRISTOL — A committee charged with evaluating the feasibility of making repairs to Mount Abraham Union Middle/High School issued its report to the district school board, recommending that the district pursue a renovation project.
“It is the position of this committee that the community is ready for an upgrade to the facility,” the report states. “We believe it is now up to the board and concerned citizens to advocate for the scope of changes to be performed.”
The report, written by committee chair Troy Paradee, stated that any construction proposal should consider “what is best for taxpayers, address long-term needs of the facility, adhere to building codes and the Americans With Disabilities Act, and promote livability, access, safety and efficiency.”
Mount Abraham was built in 1967 to house 688 students and 54 staff members. Today it serves 749 students and around 100 staff. Since its construction, the building looks much as it did 47 years ago, save for a 2004 addition of a wing of classrooms to accommodate the increase in students.
The report stated that a renovation project at Mount Abraham would:
•  Bolster the educational environment by improving air quality, lighting, organization and laboratory space;
•  Save money via energy efficiency;
•  Provide more community access while concurrently heightening the security of the facility;
•  Upgrade technologies in line with 21st-century learning.
Paradee and other parents first brought concerns about the condition of the building to school officials in 2011. In 2013, the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union School Board for $37,000 hired the architectural firm Dorr and Whittier to conduct a feasibility study.
The firm presented the results of the study in three separate meetings, culminating with an Oct. 1 presentation that proposed three options for renovating the school. The options ranged from minimal renovations, which would partially address building deficiencies, to a more expensive plan that would address all building deficiencies.
The estimated costs of the three proposals ranged from $11.6 million to $27.9 million.
The ANeSU school board last week voted to accept the report, and will form a new committee to seek further recommendations for a construction proposal, board chair Lanny Smith said.
Smith praised the work of the facilities committee.
“They went way beyond what I ever anticipated,” Smith said, noting that the group created a website and distributed fliers throughout the community. “That did a fantastic job, and I believe the new committee will continue in the same light.”
The new committee, which Smith said would be formed in the coming weeks, will consist of a mix of faculty, students and community members. It will consult with architects to come up with construction plans.
Smith said that he is particularly keen on seeing the entrance to the facility improved, as there is no direct line of sight from the main office to the front entrance.
“When I was in school, you never worried about people coming in and doing terrible things,” Smith said, adding that the way the entrance is constructed presently allows for people to walk through the front door and go anywhere in the building.
Smith said he expects the work of the new committee to encompass several months. When the work is complete, the committee will issue a report to the school board.
The facilities committee is currently made up of 13 members: Paradee; vice chair Eric Carter; secretary Shawna Sherwin; student representative Alec Towsley; school staff Laura Mina, Chris Nezin and Dustin Corrigan; community members Kathleen Clark and Brian Fox; Mount Abraham Principal Andy Kepes; ANeSU Superintendent David Adams and ANeSU Facilities Director Alden Harwood. The committee will also include members of the Bristol selectboard, who are yet to be determined.

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