Security upgrades, new track, and bleachers top 2021 projects for Dartmouth schools

Dec 9, 2019

The Dartmouth school district’s five-year plan for major construction projects includes security upgrades, new bleachers, and a new track. 

On December 9, School Business Administrator Jim Kiley presented the district’s draft of its five-year capital improvement plan, which covers big-ticket construction projects throughout the district from 2021 to 2025. 

One item, buried in the listing for fiscal year 2023, is listed as simply “Implement the facilities master plan” with a budget of “TBD.” 

The facilities master plan analyzed the physical condition of each Dartmouth school building and its ability to meet current school building design criteria. The results, released in 2017, revealed all elementary school buildings except Quinn are overcrowded when compared to current Massachusetts School Building Authority guidelines. 

Solutions the plan’s architects recommended -- which include options ranging from renovating existing schools, to building new schools -- range in estimated costs from $54 million to $86 million as of 2017.

Since the initial discussion about the results in 2017, no decision was made about how to proceed. But members agreed at the December 9 meeting they want to take another look at the options, and still want to see it listed on the capital plan. 

“It reminds people that these buildings are old and we need to have this conversation,” said School Committee member Shannon Jenkins. “I don’t think we’re quite ready yet, because we haven't settled on which plan, but I don’t want to see it go away.” 

Member Chris Oliver suggested discussing the topic at an upcoming School Committee meeting, which members agreed needs to be done soon, even if major action is years away. 

Kiely ran through the rest of the items on the 2021 plan during the meeting, which total $1,995,000 in requests. 

The most expensive project proposed in the draft plan is $600,000 to replace bleachers at Dartmouth Middle School and Quinn Elementary School. Both, Kiely noted, are original to the schools. And in the middle school’s case, the bleachers were originally designed for high school students. 

“We really need to target the gyms at the middle school and at at Quinn,” Kiely said. “The bleachers at those buildings are original to the buildings. They’re really bad.”

The district is also proposing $450,000 to reconstruct the track at Dartmouth High School, which Kiely said was in bad condition and likely will not be usable for varsity athletics in the near future without work. 

Security systems are also being targeted for improvements with a $120,000 funding request. Kiely said that will focus mainly on building security cameras. Other items include $450,000 for a boiler retrofit at Dartmouth Middle School, $150,000 for new furnaturek, particularly targeting cafeteria tables, $200,000 for technology improvements, and $25,000 for art equipment. 

The plan also outlines major projects through 2025. Among them include $2.5 million to replace windows at Potter and DeMello in 2024, and $4.5 million for high school roof replacements in 2025. 

Kiely will make a minor edit to the plan based on the School Committee’s recommendations. The plan will be passed on to the Capital Improvement Planning Committee for deliberation.