The New Transportation Facility is Up & Running
After years and years of repairing and maintaining school buses in inadequate spaces (watch video), BH-BL now has an updated, modernized transportation facility that actually has school bus bays that allow the district’s auto mechanics to raise the buses on state-of-the-art lifts and work on the undercarriage without fear of the bus hitting the ceiling.
Phase 6, O’Rourke Middle School, Slated to Begin in April 2020
The next portion of the ongoing Building Our 2nd Century project, Phase 6, includes renovation as O’Rourke Middle School. As outlined in the proposal, the middle school is slated to undergo safety & security improvements and classroom upgrades. The anticipated start date is in April 2020 and the completion date is expected to be in the fall of 2020.
Safety & Security Improvements
- Constructing a new main entrance and lobby with a secure vestibule and upgraded locking system. (See architectural renderings above and below.)
- Relocating the existing main office and guidance, social worker, nurse, and psychologist offices to renovated space closer to the new main entrance.
- Renovating existing space for a conference room for parent meetings.
- Relocating the makeshift special education rooms (currently in the space that will become the new entrance) to renovated and upgraded classrooms in the sixth-grade hallway.
- Renovating the current main office space into 21st-century classrooms with improved lighting; flexible work space; and upgraded infrastructure/wiring to support modern-day teaching and learning technology.
- Renovating and updating the existing technology classrooms (i.e., metal and wood shops) that are the original rooms from 1960.
Relocation of Offices
While a bulk of the work to be completed at O’Rourke will occur during the summer months, the spaces to be renovated and relocated need to be prepared before school lets out in order to stay on schedule. Some classrooms have already been relocated with the building, and the guidance and main offices will be relocated by spring recess. Additionally, evening activities have been rescheduled to other locations.
District officials are committed to minimizing the impact that these construction activities will have on the instructional process, but are aware that it may be challenging to conduct business as usual on certain days. As renovations gain momentum, people will see more storage pods onsite and construction traffic beginning. There will likely be shifts to traffic flow in the parking lot as construction materials arrive on site. And, in order to allow contractors to do their work in a safe and efficient manner, we are expecting to close O’Rourke Middle School to the public for most, if not all, of the summer months.
As construction begins, people will notice that portions of the middle school parking lot are blocked off/ gated for construction equipment and materials:
- Part of east side parking lot closed for construction vehicles, equipment, and materials.
- Staff to park in southernmost spaces, including tennis courts.
- Dumpsters for construction debris located around perimeter of school, including near exterior music room doors.
- Staging area with construction materials located on north side of faculty parking lot.
- Temporary asbestos dumpsters located in locked, restricted area. (Dumpster debris removal will follow appropriate state regulations & third party monitoring.)
- Storage PODS for furniture and equipment located on tennis courts.
What’s Up Next?
- Phase 6b: Construction of a new transportation facility
- Phase 7: Renovations and upgrades at the Elementary Schools and the construction of a new auditorium at the high school
High School Auditorium to Close in January, Renovations to Begin Early
Included in the voter-approved Building Our 2nd Century II Capital Project is the renovation and upgrade of the high school’s auditorium. Originally slated to close next school year, the auditorium will now close in January 2020 and the construction timeline will be updated to allow renovation work to begin earlier than planned.
When proposing auditorium renovations to voters, it was known that the structural integrity of the ceiling needed to be addressed. (It is the original ceiling from 1954.) However, at the recent holiday concerts it became visibly apparent that the deterioration of the ceiling has escalated. The plaster is crumbling and even larger chunks of it are now falling. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, it was determined that the best course of action is to close the auditorium and allow the architects and construction managers access to the space to begin preparing for the renovations ahead of schedule.
High School Principal Tim Brunson, Fine Arts Director Peter Giroux and Facilities Director Joe Scalise are in the process of reviewing the Facilities Use Calendar and making arrangements to find alternate venues for previously scheduled events.
“I am confident that this year’s events will continue as planned and will remain a source of pride for our students and families,” says Brunson. “We will find spaces that can accommodate our events and our guests.”
Venue changes will be posted on our website and shared with the community through our School News Notifier (SNN) email system. If you are not yet signed up for SNN, this would be a good time to do it. Before attending an event that is listed on the districtwide calendar that was printed in August 2019, please visit the district’s website, bhbl.org, for the updated location.
2018 Capital Project work to begin this summer
School leaders are excited to begin the Building Our 2nd Century II construction project that was approved by voters in October 2018. Among other things, this project includes the addition of a secure entrance at the middle school, districtwide classroom upgrades, high school auditorium renovations, a new transportation facility, and roof repairs. The work is expected to be completed over the next several years. Details of the project can be found on our website, www.bhbl.org.
The Building Our 2nd Century II project kicks off this summer with roof repairs and asbestos removal at BH-BL High School, O’Rourke Middle School, and Pashley Elementary School. The roof work is expected to begin at the end of June and is anticipated to take approximately six weeks to complete.
The oldest and most deteriorated sections of roofing that will be removed and replaced include the sixth-grade wing at the middle school; the second floor wing at Pashley; and the cafeteria, athletic hallway/wing, and the science wing (adjacent to the turf field) at the high school.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Owners Representative for Construction Matt Sargen at 518-399-9141, ext. 84517 or Superintendent Patrick McGrath at 518-399-9141, ext. 85002.
Residents Approve 2018 Capital Project Vote
On Tuesday, Oct. 23, BH-BL residents overwhelming approved the Building Our 2nd Century II Capital Project vote 1369 to 603, passing rate of 69%. With 1,974 votes cast, this is the second highest voter turnout in BH-BL history. (There were 2024 voters cast for the 2013 Capital Project.) Thank you to everyone who voted. The next steps include finalizing plans and submitting them to the State Education Department for approval. The district anticipates to begin work this summer.
Residents to decide on 21st-century instructional & infrastructure upgrades, Oct. 23
Polls are open Oct. 23 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., High School Gym
Residents are being asked to go to the polls on Tuesday, Oct. 23 to vote on a proposed $34 million capital project. The proposal would continue the improvements begun with the voter-approved 2013 capital project by remaining focused on upgrading and modernizing the district’s aging facilities to meet today’s learning needs.
If approved, the proposal would result in a one-time estimated tax levy increase of 1.62 percent which would be phased in over five years, totaling $68. Much of the plan, approximately $24 million, would be funded through state building aid. The estimated local cost would be $9.17 million.
The proposal would fund 21 projects that the Board of Education has chosen as the district’s most urgent needs based upon studies and recommendations from two Capital Project Committees.
“We have made great progress in the past five years, but we have more work to do to transform our schools into 21st-century facilities,” says Superintendent Patrick McGrath. “This proposal, roughly the same size as the 2013 project, will finish major work that has been identified as necessary to bring our buildings and classrooms up to an appropriate 21st-century level for our students.”
In many ways this proposal is a continuation of the 2013 Building Our 2nd Century referendum, or part two of two, adds McGrath.
The projects included in the Building Our 2nd Century II proposal are a continuation of improvements that began in 2013 and have been identified as the most important to ensure that our school facilities remain safe, in good working condition, and are able to meet 21st-century learning needs. They are categorized into four areas: