It is now time for the design of the new Mt. Ararat High School to take shape. On Wednesday, April 13th, the MSAD #75 administration received site approval of the project from the State Board of Education. Essentially, this means that the State Board of Education approves the current Mt. Ararat High School campus as the site of the new high school. With site approval comes the development of a design concept for the new school. As community groups, students, staff, administrators and PDT Architects use the previously drafted educational specifications to guide the design concept, creating a school for 750 students with space equal to 185 square feet per student will be the goal.
As the design concept phase begins, the Technology and Learning Commons Subcommittee (TLCS) of the Building Committee will learn about the value and role of a State-funded technology consultant. The TLSC will also visit other schools to investigate active learning classrooms, student work spaces such as collaboration tables, and other emerging technologies. An anticipated outcome of the design concept phase will be the identification of areas that will not be fully funded by the State. For example, in order to maintain gym space that is comparable to the current size of the Mt. Ararat gymnasium, local funding will be required. The Building Systems and Sustainability Subcommittee are striving for the use of building materials that will allow for a longer life expectancy of the new school than is the current state standard. Undoubtedly, longer lasting, high quality, sustainable building systems will not be fully funded by the State and will, therefore, require local support. Also requiring community funding will be plans for the athletic fields at Mt. Ararat High School. The Physical Education and Athletic Subcommittee are likely to recommend a turf field and plans to present that recommendation at the Building Committee meeting on May 4, 2016, at MTA HS Learning Commons, 5:30-7:30.
Design concepts related to food service, the Collegiate Model, and an expanded school forum are ideas that currently require additional community feedback and conversation before design concepts can be determined. In today’s newly constructed schools, spaces for student lunch take many forms, but one fact remains: The State will fund a luncheon space to accommodate one-third the student population. In the case of Mt. Ararat High School, two hundred and fifty students would potentially be served lunch at one time, a number of students far greater than one lunch shift currently accommodates. With this in mind, feedback about cafeteria design concepts will be important. Equally as important is whether to adopt the Collegiate Model where each educator does not necessarily have his/her own classroom. In the Collegiate Model, teacher workspaces are designed separately for classrooms as a way to decrease the number of classrooms constructed while still maintaining the Department of Education’s 85% space utilization requirements. Finally, an expanded school presentation/performance space to accommodate student theatrical productions and other functions is a concept in need of community input. The State funds a school presentation/performance space that will seat one-third of the student population. Should the community value a larger space local fundraising would be required. To foster community conversations regarding design decisions such as these, community forums will be held in the future.