The Adams Space Controversy

by Bill Quirk (E-Mail:

102 Empty Classrooms?

At the June 9 BOE meeting, Mrs. Whelan anguished over the “102 empty classrooms” controversy.  There aren't 102 empty classrooms at Adams.  There are 3 times 34 or 102 cases where we don't know how a primary classroom is used for a class period.   Why 3 times 34?   There are 8 class periods each day, but classes are not scheduled for 3 periods for each of the 34 primary classrooms.
For a detailed accounting of all 42 Adams Classrooms, see Table 2 and Table 3 in  Handout for the December 16, 2002 Guilford BOF Meeting  The URL is
Mrs. Truex has given a few examples to explain some of these 102 cases, and Keith Bishop now reports that students don't use the room for 56 of these cases.   Apparently there is some student use for the other 46 cases, but the details aren't given.   For the 34 primary rooms, Adams classroom loading data provides the details of daily use for 5 class periods.   Why not a detailed accounting showing how each room is used for the other 3 periods?

Here is an excerpt from my December 8, 2002 email request to Adams Principal Walker:

The classroom loading report tells me how (approximately) 35 classrooms are used for regular education (language arts, math, science, social studies, and world language).  Can you please tell me how these rooms are used when there is no (regular education) class in session?
At the December 16 BOF meeting, Mrs. Walker approached me to say that she was working on my questions and would respond after the holidays.    No response yet.

What's the Capacity of Adams?

At the February 18 BOS meeting we were told that the State of Connecticut rated the capacity of the Adams middle school at 572 students.  This “rated by the state” claim was repeated in the May 13 issue of the New Haven Register.  It's the stamp of authority now being used to justify $500,000 for portable classrooms.

David Wedge is the Manager of the CT DOE School Facilities Unit.  He says Guilford reported the Adams square footage as 106,369 and the building capacity as 572.  Guilford also reported 26 classrooms for Adams.  Now average class size at Adams is 22, and 22 times 26 equals 572.  Bingo!   Was this product method used to determine capacity?   If so, it's awkward to admit this now.  Some may remember that Adams Principal, Catherine Walker, said, “Adams currently has 39 generic classrooms” at the November 25, 2002 BOE meeting.

In a May 27 email, Mrs. Truex wrote “the number 572 comes from dividing the approximately 101,000 square feet of the Adams school by 176.”  Say what? Mrs. Truex’s division method inverts the state's method for limiting extravagant spending.  She decided that 176 square feet, the maximum space reimbursable per student for a new building, should be considered the minimum space required per student in an existing building.  She used 101,000 as an approximation for 106,369 and non-standard rounding to get to 572, the product method answer.

Madison reported the Brown Middle School square footage as 92,752.  By Mrs. Truex’s division method, the capacity is 527 students.  But Madison reported 750 to the state.  Relative to Brown, Adams has 15% more space, but Guilford reported 31% less for student capacity.

If we limit to the 34 primary rooms and assume average class size of 22, the capacity is 34 times 22 or 748 students.  But we're only expecting 660 students next fall, and the worst case projection is 716 students, eight years from now.   Note the added flexibility because classes are scheduled for just 5 of the 8 periods for each of the 34 primary classrooms.

Finally, there are currently 664 student lockers at Adams.   How can the capacity be less than 664?

Large Class Size?

Lately we've heard about class sizes that are “far beyond the sizes considered optimal by professional educators”.  For the 34 primary classrooms at Adams, classroom loading data shows that average class size is 22 for grade 7 and 19 for grade 8.   For the 5 times 34 or 170 daily classes, the class size range is 15 to 27, with 19 daily instances of class size greater than 24. With 25 more students next fall, average class size at Adams will be 22.

Basement Classrooms?  Small Classrooms?

So-called “basement classrooms” are only partially below ground level.  They usually have windows.

Average classroom size is 751 square feet for the 34 primary classrooms at Adams.   The 5 special education classrooms are smaller in size.  But this is appropriate for the typically small special education classes.

There are 3 small primary classrooms.  They measure 462, 465, and 473 square feet.  But there are also two very large primary classrooms.  If divided in half, these two large rooms would yield four 725 square foot classrooms.

Finally, we've heard much about the 393 square foot health classroom.   Mrs. Truex invited all to view this non-primary room, as we were leaving the October 28, 2002 public hearing.  All will agree that this space shouldn't be used as a classroom.   But we're not convinced that suitable alternative space can't be found elsewhere in Adams.   For example, the 462 square foot room could be used, if the two large classrooms were divided in half.

We Still Need a Space Utilization Analysis for Adams

Educational Consultants of Connecticut described the rooms at Adams, but they didn't  provide an analysis of how each room is actually used, and they didn't offer ideas for more efficient use of the space at Adams.   We shouldn't rely on the subjective opinion of those who have toured the building.   We need an objective analysis by a qualified space utilization expert.