Milton back to school 2021

Students walk into Milton High School for the first day of the 2021-22 school year on Aug. 25. 

The Milton Town School Board is looking to get ahead of the rises in construction prices for the new Milton Innovation Center being planned for Milton High School.

At the board’s meeting last week, members discussed the options for different floor plans and next steps for the project.

The MIC opened in Quarter 4 of last year and the project has been a longtime goal of the district, a “hands-on space for students to explore, create and innovate their passions into a career path with the collaboration and mentorship of educators and community professionals,” according to its mission statement.

Plans are to turn MHS’s current woodshop into the makerspace in order to retain some aspects of it.

David Epstein, managing principal at the architecture and interior design firm TruexCullins, presented the board with options for floor plans and spoke about construction costs and the future.

Epstein said the designs for the space come from conversations and input from staff and administration.

He said a main goal of the designs was to determine the appropriate scope of the project so as to not exceed the amount of money the district is willing to spend.

“What we don’t want to do is draw something you can’t afford,” Epstein said. “But we want to get it right because it's a really exciting project that can have a lot of impact for the school and the community.”

All of the plans presented a clean lab and a dirty lab, the clean area being for things like 3D printing or design work and the dirty being for things like painting and cutting. Some schemes displayed a separate area specifically for instruction.

Epstein said each of the plans presented are different in terms of features and costs. The cost of the MIC is partly predicated on how much intervention is needed to execute the plan.

He said the plan that was preferred by administration and staff, Option 4, included very little intervention (only a wall separating the clean lab from the dirt lab).

Eptein said the purpose of the conversation at the meeting was to find some direction as the board begins to think about the cost.

“To be perfectly frank, we’re seeing renovation projects coming in at $450 per square foot for construction and this is a 2,000 square foot space just for the interior,” he said. “So now you are talking $800,000 plus potential, it really is crazy how expensive construction has gotten.”

He said that once you add in the hallway and the outdoor space, things could get closer to $1 million.

“We think a project like what’s drawn in Option 4, there’s a real opportunity to create a huge impact and really change the character of this part of the school and really create some synergy between art, creative media and this innovation space,” he said. “But we don’t want to go waltzing down this path if it's really not sustainable from a budgetary standpoint.”

Epstein said the project has to go through another round of edits based on feedback from the staff and then present those new options to the board. Once a plan is decided, then they can start getting cost estimates.

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