Milton Stock: Elementary/Middle School

MILTON — Anticipating town growth, the Milton Town School District board is moving ahead with the creation of a master plan for the district’s three buildings.

At its July 8 meeting, the board unanimously approved a prolonged, three-part assessment by TruexCullins, a firm specializing in educational space planning.

The firm will not only create a facilities master plan that proposes solutions to the elementary, middle and high school’s current functional issues, but anticipates possible increases in enrollment.

Though MTSD has seen a dip in enrollment of about 10% over the last decade, enrollment could rebound post-pandemic, according to TruexCullins.

“I think Milton is going to take off soon,” MTSD Facilities Director Bruce Cheeseman said during a June 24 meeting. “I really do believe it.”

The master plan creation costs $122,000. The funds will come from the district’s capital reserve.

“Although it’s a hefty price tag, I think it’s money well-spent, because it’s going to tell us what we have to do to get us to where we want to go,” Cheeseman said during the same meeting.

The current elementary/middle school building on Herrick Avenue was built in various stages between 1957-79. The building’s most recent renovation was in 1996 when the two-story middle school addition was built.

The complex is approximately 160,000 square feet. 741 students currently attend the elementary school, while 336 attend the middle school.

“The elementary school is pretty full,” Lynne Manley, director of curriculum, instruction and information technology said. “So what is the plan if another say, 400 students come into the district on the younger end, not the high school side?”

The elementary and middle schools share a library, which has been a long-time concern of the administration and the school board. Both see this as a high priority on the list of needed renovations.

Across the street, on Rebecca Lander Drive, Milton High School is 120,000 square feet and enrolls 491 students. It was built in 1969. Its only recent renovation was the addition of a wood-chip heating plant in the 1990s, which is now too expensive to use.

“The cafeteria, too, has looked the same for the last 35 years,” Chair Rick Dooley said. “No one is building a cafeteria that looks like that anymore.”

To address these issues and more, TruexCullins will utilize three phases: Facility Evaluation, Visioning and Concept Design.

During Facility Evaluation, the firm will assess the buildings’ existing architectural, mechanical and electrical systems. Engineers will focus on issues related to health, safety and energy efficiency. Recommendations for upgrades will be made and costs for those improvements will be estimated.

The Visioning phase will include seeking input from staff, students and families on their priorities and goals.

“I don’t think we’ve ever looked at the impact of the space on education,” Manley said. “I read through the proposal and am excited to see they will talk to faculty and staff about how they would like to use their classrooms and interview students about what they want to have in terms of space.”

TruexCullins and MTSD could host some combination of workshops and community presentations to gather this information.

In the Concept Design phase, TruexCullins will work with the district to determine how to make the master plan a reality. Costs will be estimated and a timeline created.

Board member Jeremy Metcalf said this could take the form of a 10-year timeline, with the most needed improvements occurring the soonest should voter-approved budgeting allow.

“This is the first comprehensive look the district will ever have done,” Dooley said.

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