November 18, 2002 Meeting of
the Guilford Board of Finance
Is Adams Currently Overcrowded?
At the October 28th Public hearing, Mrs. Truex presented a power point
presentation about the proposed middle school building project.
Mrs. Truex didn't mention overcrowding when interviewed for a November
8th New Haven Register article (which also appeared in the November 13th
issue of the Shore Line Times). She did say that:
Slides 22 through 24 presented the pros and cons of building a new Adams
There were 12 pros and no cons
There were no slides explaining how the current Adams building is overcrowded.
I emailed Mrs. Truex, asking if the quotes were accurate, and, if so would
she please elaborate. She didn't respond.
"One of the issues facing Adams is there are no standard-size classrooms;
some are small, others huge." [underline
"To rectify the situation would require a complete interior renovation
to state specifications, which together with the additions at Baldwin
priced out to $70.534 million." [underline emphasis added]
I next called the Connecticut State Department of Education and was
referred to Craig A. Smith of the School Facilities Unit.
In a November 13 phone conversation he said:
According to the Adams floor plan, there are 42 classrooms, with 30 classrooms
in the 616 to 957 square foot range. If we assume a class
size of 24, these 30 classrooms alone can accommodate 720 students, with
average classroom size (both median and mean) of approximately 756 square
feet. That's 256 square feet more than required by the State
of Connecticut, and 12 classrooms aren't even used.
He didn't know what Mrs. Truex meant by "standard-size classrooms"
There's only one requirement for classroom size. It's found in the
Connecticut State Fire Safety Code (NFPA 101 - 1997). Section 11-1.7
of this code discusses occupant load for classrooms and states that there
should be a minimum of 20 net square feet per person.
Thus, for a class size of 24 students, with one teacher, the classroom
size should be at least 500 square feet.
Approximately 635 students are currently enrolled at Adams.
Will Adams be Overcrowded in the Future?
Summary: Based on an examination of Guilford BOE meeting minutes,
going back to October, 1999, the worst case projection publicly discussed
is approximately 660 students for Adams through the year 2009.
The only "official" enrollment projections discussed publicly were presented
by the Education Consultants of Connecticut (ECC) at the October 1999 BOE
meeting. The ECC representative stated:
"At the middle school level (grades 5-8), over the next ten school years,
enrollment is projected to be within the range of 1,233 to 1,320
with peak periods in grades 5-6 during years 2001-2006 and in grades 7-8
during years 2002-2007."
That's an average of 330 students per grade for grades 5 through 8.
That's roughly 660 students for Adams.
The minutes of the March 2002 BOE meeting reported that Julie Kim, an architect
with Fletcher Thompson "reviewed enrollment projections by Educational
Consultants of Connecticut.
There was no mention of any defect with the ECC projections.
Quoting from the minutes of the September 2001 BOE meeting:
"Mrs. Truex reported, as of today, the preliminary enrollment is 3,977,
including students who attend out of district facilities. She discussed
state projections and reported the peak enrollment period is projected
to occur in 2007-2008 with Guilford's projections at 4,078.
This 4,078 figure says we should expect a maximum of 100 additional students
for the 13 grades (K through 12) over the next 6 years. Per
grade it's an average of about 8 additional students.
This 4,078 figure yields an average of 314 students per grade for the 13
That's roughly 628 students for Adams
Does this prove that we don't need more space for grades 7 and 8?
No, but it does suggest that:
We need an objective assessment of currently available space.
We should explore all options for more efficient space utilization.
We need enrollment projection data from qualified experts.
If Construction is Needed, What About the Current Proposal?
Twelve years ago our elementary schools included grade 5, and Adams and
Baldwin were true middle schools, both covering grades 6 through 8.
The current proposal will reinforce the current grade span model,
with Baldwin, technically an elementary school, for grades 5 and
6, and Adams for grades 7 and 8.
Administrator is the journal of the American Association of School
Administrators. The March 2002 issue was devoted to issues related
to grade span configurations.
As discussed there, current research indicates that for both academic
achievement and social adjustment:
It's best to delay the first school building transition.
It's best to minimize the number of building transitions
The old Guilford model was better, with the first building transition at
the beginning of the 6th grade.
It's best to minimize grade density (the number of students in a specific
grade in a specific building).
The old Guilford model was better, with just one building transition during
the K-8 years.
Why is it important to delay the first school building transition?
The old Guilford model was better, with half the current grade density
for grades 5 through 8.
To keep the student close to home where "everyone knows your name."
In particular, the school principal knows the student and the family,
beginning with the first day of school.
To maximize parent participation.
There is an increased probability of siblings in the same building.
A higher percentage of parents tend to remain involved with the first school
attended by their children.
There is an increase in teacher to teacher accountability.
The older children look out for the younger children in their family.
Most importantly to delay the stress of the first building transition.
Teachers in earlier grades are under pressure to meet the expectations
of teachers in the later grades. They see them every day.
Does this prove that we should return to the old Guilford grade span
The first year in a new school building is difficult for students, both
academically and socially.
No, but it does suggest that we should give more consideration to alternative
grade span models before we reinforce our current unconventional grade
What About the Total Cost of This Proposal?
The current announced cost is approximately 55 million dollars, with an
expected reimbursement of about 11 million from the State to arrive at
approximately 44 million dollars to be paid for by Guilford Taxpayers.
The total cost for Guilford taxpayers should include:
A more realistic estimate of reimbursement from the State of Connecticut.
Let's hear the details of reimbursement percentages. What happened
to the 33.57% rate mentioned September 23rd?
Expenses to maintain and reconfigure the current Adams building.
Expenses to access the Baldwin site from route 77, with the required bridging
of the West River.
Interest for the 20 year bond.
Two aspects of the proposal deserve special scrutiny:
The 10.2 million dollars in soft costs for the new Adams building
Current plans for the proposed new Adams building now call for 158,000
square feet of space.
Show us the details!
There are new middle schools projects where the total cost is less than
this soft cost figure.
At the August 2002 BOE meeting, it was to be about 138,000 square feet.
We were also told then that the standard reimbursable square footage is
136,000 square feet.
The public should know how profitable that extra 20,000 square feet will
be for those involved with the construction.
Ask Craig Smith at the State of Connecticut DOE School Facilities Unit.
Copyright 2002 William G. Quirk, Ph.D.
The reader is invited to print and/or copy this paper.