Square feet per cows vs. students at issue with Shepaug Ag-STEM project
WASHINGTON —The Region 12 Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to re-engage design firm Kaestle Boos Associates to shrink the scope of its plan to build an Ag-STEM campus at Shepaug Valley High School.
The move comes after the state’s Department of Administrative Services after told the board that its initial schematics called for too much space per student, board members said.
The board plans spend up to $30,000 on the design firm’s services.
Board member Gregory Cava said he is unsure if the complaint from the state had to do with the actual size of the buildings, or if there was just a fundamental misunderstanding, and the state didn’t appreciate that an Ag-STEM campus calls for much different buildings than standard schools.
“You don’t put a cow in an unused shower stall,” Cava said at the board’s meeting on Tuesday. “You don’t put a pig in a closet.”
Livestock, and student safety around livestock, had influenced Kaestle Boos’ original schematics, Cava said Tuesday, adding that the state might be looking at the build with a lens of square-footage per student, but not square-footage per student and animal in agricultural buildings like barns.
Department of Administrative Services Director of the Office of School Construction Grants and Review Kosta Diamantis said the department is fully aware of the needs of an Ag-STEM school, and that agricultural spaces have been accounted for in his office. The issue at hand, he said, has little to do with the square-footage of buildings for livestock. It’s likely a projected enrollment discrepancy between when project started being planned, and now, he said.
Before May, the state had no issues with the initial build schematics, Board of Education members said, but then Region 12 officials said they were left in "limbo" after the state delayed a $29 million bond issue that would have paid for much of the $39.5 million project.
Board members said the additional $30,000 to Kaestle Boos is not “more” money for the project, but just a re-start in work on the project after everything stalled in May.
“The rules got changed in the middle of the game,” Cava said Tuesday.
The original plan called for a 26,500-square-foot addition to Shepaug Valley School, a 20,000-square-foot equine facility, a 10,000-square-foot animal facility and a 4,900-square-foot equipment garage.
Now, with up to $30,000 to work with, Kaestle Boos will look to down-size the project to pass state muster.
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