Q&A on Hutchinson School/Bond

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Q: Why does the Hutchinson School façade need replacing?

A: Due to the age of the building, the freeze-thaw cycle and resulting rust on the steel window lintels and spandrel beams, portions of the yellow brick on the exterior have become loose and have started to bulge. Multiple architects and experts have confirmed that the only long-term solution is to completely replace the façade.

Q: Is the building safe?

A: Yes. The safety measures that were put into place last year, including erecting scaffolding and fencing off certain areas of the grounds will continue for the foreseeable future. Our consultants have assured us that these measures are sufficient to protect our students and staff. As an additional precaution, we have increased the frequency of our monitoring to further ensure the school’s exterior is safe.

Q: Why is a building addition necessary?

A: The scale of renovations needed at Hutchinson School requires us to add elevators, lifts, and wheelchair ramps, and the only feasible way to provide this access is to add an elevator near where the portables are now. This provides the Board with an opportunity to address other needs. To that end, the Board is reviewing a range of options that include replacing the portables with permanent classrooms, building 2-4 new classrooms and/or creating a cafeteria/multipurpose room, among other possibilities.

Q: Is it true that the Board is considering building a new Hutchinson School?

A: The Board has reviewed preliminary concepts and possible locations for a new Hutchinson School as a comparison to renovating the building and to help assess the cost-effectiveness of the various options. As the Board continues to gather information and assess the short and long-term needs of the District, we will determine the viability of this option. The final decision regarding Hutchinson has not yet been made. As stewards of the District’s facilities, it is essential that we consider the long-term needs of the structure, the best learning environment for our students, and the anticipated cost to our taxpayers. Additionally, the Board will seek feedback from the community before determining the final scope of work.

Q: How much will all of this cost/will my taxes increase?

A: The total project cost is unknown and will be dependent on the final scope of work. The preliminary estimates for Hutchinson show a range of about $20 million for the most modest proposal to around $42 million for a new building. The Board has engaged with Capital Markets to help us project the impact on taxpayers for the various scenarios, and we will review and share that information shortly.

Q: When will the Board reach a decision?

A: The Board is hoping to finalize its decision on Hutchinson School by mid-to-late October. Once we decide how to address Hutchinson, we will then continue our discussion about the District’s other schools and facilities needs with the goal of settling on a final scope of work sometime in December.

Q: How can I learn more about the bond?

A: We encourage you to join the conversation by attending our Board of Education meetings and coffees over the coming weeks. Additionally, the Board plans to host a community meeting and tours of Hutchinson School on September 28th and October 4th. The tours will begin at 7 pm on each day with the meeting following at 7:30 pm.  Please view a full list of upcoming Board meetings, times and topics and feel free to reach out to us at boe@pelhamschools.org with any questions.