West Haven Board of Education members tour high school construction site
Board of Education members donned hard hats and walked under scaffolding and around construction materials Monday evening, Jan. 7, as they toured the site of the 108,000-square-foot addition project to West Haven High School.
They saw what will become the huge media center enveloped by walls of windows, the framework of music and art classes, shop rooms, and what appeared to be a magnificent auditorium.
In the cafeteria downstairs, in addition to the usual lunch line, there will be kiosks where students can grab a quick bite, a central kitchen for the district and space for expanding the popular culinary program. Those students will make desserts and stock them into a two-sided fridge where cafeteria-goers can grab them for purchase.
“I’m really excited that we’re finally starting to see the progress,” Superintendent of Schools Neil Cavallaro said, noting that he wants the community to get excited about it, too. The new portion of the school is on schedule to be completed in August 2019 for the following school year.
The entire $130 million construction and renovation project — years in the making — is supposed to be completed by 2021.
Board Vice Chairman Robert J. Guthrie said he’s been watching from the outside, but it was nice to get a look inside.
“It will be much more modern, much more state of the art and student-centered,” Guthrie said.
Board member Rosa Richardson said she loves the modernization and technology the new building will bring to the school.
Richardson also liked that administrative offices will be a long, straight row so there are no areas where anyone can hide.
Board members also liked, for safety reasons, that no one can get into the school where students are without first going through offices.
Cavallaro said the entrance to the school will be in the back of how the school currently is situated and through the new building. He said there often is confusion now, because most people go to the back thinking the entrance is there.
Richardson raised the issue of whether the media center will be open after school for students to access and Cavallaro said he likes the idea, but will visit it after the new portion of the school opens, as it would require staffing.
West Haven High School Building Committee Chairman Kenneth Carney led the tour, saying the team at Gilbane Building Co. of Glastonbury has gone “above and beyond” to make sure the project is top-notch, making improvements over what the plan called for where issues arose.
Carney said he was “impressed with the quality of the block work.”
The rebuilt high school project, which involves renovation of much of the existing space and new construction, was designed by Antinozzi Associates of Bridgeport to accommodate 1,598 students. The total finished project will total 265,959 square feet, officials have said.
The completed school will offer a cutting-edge media center, advanced STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — classrooms and laboratories, and upgraded public areas for the school and community. The building will be fully air-conditioned and will have lower maintenance and operating costs while also offering enhanced access and security, according to a news release.
Site restoration work is expected to continue until spring 2022.
The project’s construction phase, also known as Phase III, is composed of three major “subphases” to allow the school to offer a full academic curriculum throughout the project, officials have said.
The project’s first subphase includes constructing the food services, building services, tech-ed shops, media center, auditorium, music and arts classrooms, and administrative offices to permit the transferal of building uses. That opens other parts of the existing building for renovation or demolition.
The second subphase involves renovating the existing eastern three-story building after demolishing the existing cafeteria and media center.
The third subphase includes demolishing the existing auditorium and music spaces, renovating the northern wing of academic spaces, and demolishing the existing gym and southern academic building.