What are the major deficiencies of the Andover High School facility? What current educational standards are not being met?

Andover High School is seriously overcrowded. Based on current educational state standards,[2] it is lacking in both number and size of classrooms. According to MGT’s report, the school’s current enrollment means its space ranks as “inadequate” with a utilization rate of 117 percent. The pressure for space at this facility is predicted to increase to 130 percent by 2025-26.

Specifically, an analysis by HMFH Architects (hired to perform a preliminary feasibility study in 2017) showed 80 percent of Andover High’s core classrooms are smaller than the recommended 850 to 950 square feet, 72 percent of science classrooms are smaller than the recommended 1,000 to 1,400 square feet, and special needs space is only 53 percent of the recommended area. Based on MSBA’s current standards for academic areas, the capacity of AHS is approximately 1,400 students. However, the school’s current enrollment already stands at 1,800 with an increase to over 1,900 projected over the next twenty years.

Shared spaces are also too small or insufficient in number. The limited size of the current cafeteria and serving area requires four lunch periods, each with 450 students moving through tight spaces, complicating and disrupting class schedules. The library is roughly half the size needed for the current enrollment. About 25 rooms designed for other uses—including teacher workrooms and teacher dining areas—have been converted into classroom space, and remaining teacher resource areas are crowded and poorly distributed. To accommodate student schedules, 75 percent of faculty members must shuttle among multiple classrooms each day with no appropriate space to prepare lessons, evaluate student work, store materials, or meet with students. Between-class time that could be devoted to conferring with students is instead spent carting materials to the next classroom. Teachers are scattered throughout the building instead of being grouped by department, which impedes professional collaboration. Small classrooms and inflexible furnishings limit instructional options and negate the opportunity for some educational services, including areas for hands-on experimentation and collaboration, for student projects that require extensive space to complete over a period of days or weeks, and for advanced-level classes that enroll small numbers of students. Students are turned away from some popular classes because the small, repurposed instructional areas cannot hold all the students who wish to enroll.

Other concerns: No fire sprinklers exist in 65 percent of the building, including the entire original building, the Dunn Gym and the Collins Center; the fire alarm is not audible in all areas; certain areas of the school are difficult to monitor for security; the site needs improvement for accessibility, traffic flow and avoidance of vehicular and pedestrian conflicts; mechanical systems—particularly those that support climate control—are ineffectual and beyond their usable life; windows are beginning to fail; the Collins Center floods periodically as a result of the high water table near the orchestra pit; water in the science labs is often unusable for experiments because of undesirable color and temperature; and there is an insufficient number of classroom/office electrical outlets, elevators (only one to serve the entire school), and accessible restroom facilities and other features that promote accessibility.

[2] Educational standards as used by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for the construction of modern school facilities


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1. What has the Andover High School Facility Study Committee been doing? Are there any significant findings from the Andover High School feasibility study?
2. What are the major deficiencies of the Andover High School facility? What current educational standards are not being met?
3. Why is the temperature within Andover High often uncomfortable in winter and summer? What are the major contributing factors?
4. What future enrollment projections is the School Committee using or planning to use to ensure the High School project meets projected future needs?
5. Didn’t Andover recently renovate the high school?
6. Can the state help with Andover’s school facility needs? Has Andover sought this assistance?
7. Why did the district decide to ask for MSBA help for Andover High in April 2018?
8. What are the primary options being considered for Andover High construction?
9. What are the factors to consider in the decision between an addition plus renovation versus new construction?
10. Is “do nothing” an option being considered for Andover High?
11. How can a renovated or new facility provide a better and more current instructional program for students?
12. Why will the MSBA decision in December be a critical milestone for the Andover High project?
13. When will improvements to Andover High begin? When will improvements be complete?
14. Which other Massachusetts communities have undertaken major projects to improve their high schools?
15. Why are multiple schools being considered for renovation or reconstruction at the same time?
16. Why did the district ask the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for help with West Elementary, rather than Andover High, in April 2017?
17. What are the pros and cons of participating in the MSBA program and of building without MSBA partnership?
18. What paths are being taken to address both AHS and West Elementary?
19. When will improvements to West Elementary begin? When will improvements be complete?
20. How are Andover buildings being maintained?
21. Will Andover High continue to be maintained while we are going through this process?
22. How does the town pay for facility construction projects?
23. What is Andover’s track record for past school construction being on or under budget?
24. What is the potential impact of school construction projects on my taxes?
25. I have no children who attend Andover Public Schools. How will this project benefit me and the community?
26. Are any other high-priority school facilities being considered for improvement?
27. What public input has occurred to date? How can the public be engaged in this process?
28. Who will make the decision about which building project(s) to pursue?
29. How accurate are the cost estimates?