WHY a new school?
GW has had a patchwork of renovations and repairs over the past 100 years. The district's architect spoke to that at the Virtual Forum on Jan. 26. Click here for the recording, and advance to about the 12-minute and 33-minute marks (re: building systems), the 20-minute mark (re: building design), and the 29-minute mark (flexible and secure design).
Longtime Hillsdale resident Leta Gordon served on the Hillsdale Board of Education from 1989-1996, a time period that included the major renovations of George G. White Middle School. In this video, Ms. Gordon shares her unique historical perspective of past renovations and the continued march of time.
GW is cramped and outdated
The typical classroom at George G. White Middle School is approximately 540 square feet. When it was built in 1922, this was a common standard. However, since the early 1920s class sizes have grown and teaching approaches have changed. See the comparison below of a classroom of about 500 square feet versus 800 square feet. The larger room sizes support modern instruction and support the high-demand classes that can attract 20 or more students. The proposed new construction would meet or exceed this learning standard acceptable to the Department of Education.
A new school would be designed from the ground up for modern education
The March 14 referendum could move Hillsdale toward a solution for a school that has seen its share of wear and tear since being built in 1922. It no longer supports contemporary education standards.
The plan began to take shape with the Strategic Planning Process that was completed in the 2019-20 school year. The foundation was set when the Hillsdale Board of Education approved the Strategic Plan in September 2020. That put the district on the Road to Referendum in March 2023.
There are just three science labs and no dedicated STEM space. The science labs are in constant use, and they are all outdated.
The cafeteria was never built for servicing the 500+ students who wait in line daily for their turn to enter.
Restrooms are not only dated, but frequently have sink, stall and urinal problems.
Heating and electrical systems are old. The building’s exterior has deteriorated beyond major repair. Flooring and windows need to be replaced.
Band and chorus practice in spaces that are not adequately sized or acoustically appropriate.
The proposal is for construction of a new school for 5-8th grade students. Plans call for 24 general classrooms, 10 small group instructional classrooms, 4 science classrooms and 3 special education classrooms, plus a STEM Lab, 2 music rooms, and 3 classrooms dedicated to art, culinary arts, and maker space. The school would also have a media center, a multi-purpose room with stage, commons area, offices, conference rooms, and support spaces.
we are growing . . .
An independent report in Spring 2022 researched factors that contribute to student enrollment levels, from birth rates to housing turnover. GW is cramped now, and that might ease just a little over the next 3 to 5 years. After that, enrollment is likely to rise due to the projected rate of housing turnover: when empty-nesters move away and families with school aged children take their place. Additionally, in Summer of 2022 Hillsdale experienced a surge in new student enrollments. The forecast includes a major redevelopment plan that could bring more than 200 housing units to the Patterson Street area.
surveys showed strong support for
building a new school across the street
Three info sessions were offered in Spring 2022 to tell parents about the challenges facing Hillsdale and potential solutions. They were asked their opinions of the best option for the future of the Hillsdale learners and community. Over 89% of respondents said construction of a new school was the answer.
OPTION 1 is the basis for the bond referendum: Construct a new facility across the street. Students would remain in the current GW for learning during an estimated two years of construction. After a new school is built, the existing one would be replaced with a multi-sport, synthetic turf field for use by the students during physical education and after school activities and available for community at other times.
OPTION 2 was: Renovate and add to the current school, including a new gymnasium. Students would be displaced from the building and learning would occur in temporary trailers for about two years. Update the current field space.
OPTION 3 was: Renovate and add to the current school while leaving the current gymnasium intact. Students would learn in temporary trailers for about two years. Update the current field space.
OPTION 4 was: Only renovate the current school. No changes in the size of classrooms or physical footprint. Students would learn in temporary trailers during renovations for about two years. No update of current field space.
The label “Option 1” was not applied at the start of this process. The Board of Education and district administration sought the architect’s guidance on renovating George White to bring it up to financial efficiency, sound building envelope, and educational standards. The outlier at the time was to build a new school, and that emerged as the leading option.