Northfield’s early childhood programs are growing at a significant rate and are out of space. More children are engaged in early childhood education. Economists, like Art Rolnick, suggest there is a $7 return for each dollar invested in early childhood education. By constructing a new elementary school on the same site, the current Greenvale Park Elementary School can be repurposed to house a district-wide early childhood center. Built in 1971 as an ‘open school’ with few actual classrooms, the District has created classroom spaces over time at Greenvale Park. The reasonable renovations would provide a space to consolidate all early childhood and community education programs into one facility. District administrative offices would move to Longfellow School to join Area Learning Center students who will remain on Longfellow’s second floor. A new two-story elementary school on the current Greenvale Park campus will provide modern instructional spaces to support 21st-century learning.
Minor additions at Sibley Elementary – a Media Center and Music Addition – allow for expansion of core spaces by expanding the current cafeteria and adding additional instructional space. Bridgewater Elementary would construct a new main office in front of the current entrance to establish a secure front entry. The current office space would be remodeled as instructional space. The total amount projected for these elementary projects is $30.5 million. These projects would all be scheduled to be finished at various points in 2019.
High School Project
Northfield High School has served students over six decades and is at a crossroads. There are $14 million in age-related maintenance projects over the next decade that would only address the building’s infrastructure issues. Things like replacing single-pane windows, exterior brick and mortar issues, and leaks. This investment of $14 million dollars does not include addressing the security issues presented by a sprawling building layout with approximately 50 exits.
The $14 million dollars in age-related deferred maintenance does not modernize any instructional spaces. A new two-story building anticipates some growth and allows us to construct flexible spaces that are adaptable to current needs and ready to adjust to programming not yet conceived. A new facility will provide the necessary security enhancements while also maintaining a welcoming learning environment. It will give the community increased opportunities for access to facilities. A new, two-story 1,500 student high school is estimated to cost $78.5 million. The facility, which would open for the 2020-21 school year, would be constructed where the current baseball fields are located – between Memorial Field and Division Street.
The current building would be razed and the land used to relocate the athletic fields lost to the construction of the new high school. In the elementary project, repurposing facilities is not only feasible but a significant plus. After a thorough review, there are too many issues associated with trying to keep some of the current high school. One of its major drawbacks — the sprawling nature of the facility — makes it very difficult to maintain any portion of the building without significant investment in new HVAC and other building control systems. Finally, its razing is a tradeoff for the District not having to acquire new land for a new school and maintains a central location for the High School. Land acquisition is a significant cost that is not needed in any part of the proposed projects.