Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Community School District committee members and Lavallee Brensinger Architects (LBPA) on May 20 moved delivery of the CSD master plan back from August to December. The decision came after a two-month standstill after architects were forced to cancel meetings with students, staff and the community.
The three LBPA professionals – K-12 Studio Leader Lance Whitehead, Project Manager Joe Britton and Design Principal Ron Lamarre – said resuming meetings will help the CSD find the best uses, layouts and potential for both school buildings and curriculum by answering the four vital questions the firm asked in January: What is most significant about the schools? What are the desired outcomes? What are the obstacles? And what teaching, learning and training models are not supported by the existing learning environment?
“When we asked … we heard that teachers hang around … that your teacher student ratio is comfortable… everybody feels that the school itself is like one family,” said Lamarre.
LBPA highlighted several issues to factor into decisions: Security, the Americans With Disabilities Act, wayfinding, layout and diminishing resources. Lamarre said the first and only round of meetings with students, staff and the community has already given some perspective: Community-based education via off-site learning and on-site incubators; social and emotional learning environment through multi-age connection, personalization and professional development; economic viability; a future-proof learning environment; and the unique local resources and environment.
The greatest desires among visioning meeting attendees were total student and staff engagement, different delivery systems of education, better special education access and increased place-based education, said Lamarre. The obstacles were dwindling resources, declining enrollment, inability for many staff and educators to live in the region, spatial constraints, scheduling difficulties, too much shared space and lack of storage.
“That pool of resources (could be) anywhere from Augusta down to the school that becomes an obstacle. Other school districts around pay better … People feel like they can’t afford to live in town … You may not be able to get the best people for the job.”
Committee Chair Larry Colcord said he has never heard of resource scarcity in his 20 years on the committee. “We haven’t had a problem attracting quality educators.”
The observations may be from educators and staff from behind the scenes, Lamarre offered. “It might be things they’re seeing, that they’re hearing.”
Lamarre said those suggestions may also indicate a need to continue discussions. “It’s all about transformation and we can do that. Your students are already putting their fingerprint on your schools (and) you want to be future thinking, 10 to 15 years from now. How is our facility designed to do what we want to do?”