The current FHS Building Project began in May of 2018, when Town Council created two committees – FHS Facility and Financial Ad Hoc Committee and FHS Community Survey Ad Hoc Committee – comprised of members of the community, representatives from Town Council and the Board of Education, and representatives from the school department. The committees were tasked with reviewing the deficiencies in the current FHS facility, understanding current best practices in school design and construction, reviewing the Town’s fiscal readiness to undertake an FHS facility project, assessing the community’s interest and support level for addressing the problems with the FHS facility, and providing recommendations on next steps.
At a special joint meeting of the Town Council and Board of Education on January 22, 2019, that included extensive public comment from members of the community, the two ad hoc committees presented their findings, which were accepted unanimously by both bodies. On January 30, the Board of Education submitted to Town Council a Statement of Needs that reviewed the deficiencies of the FHS facility and recommended that the Town undertake “a comprehensive building project (renovate, renovate with additions, renovate as new or new construction) of Farmington High School as noted [in the list of needs] and further, that the Farmington Town Council consider this statement of needs as soon as possible.”
On March 26, 2019, Town Council unanimously voted to create a new FHS Building Committee (comprised of five residents, two members of the Board of Education, two representatives from Town Council, and several individuals representing the Town and the school department). The new FHS Building Committee received a two-part charge to review the Statement of Needs, review Town financial reports and documents, hire an Owner’s Representative, review potential alternate sites in town for a new FHS facility, engage two architectural firms in a competitive design process, and to ultimately develop a final plan to be presented for a public vote at a town referendum. Before moving into the Final Plan Development phase, the FHS Building Committee will present to Town Council the conceptual designs and cost estimates it received from the two architects along with the Committee’s recommendation. Town Council will then determine the project scope and overall net municipal cost (the amount the town itself would pay for the project; it is expected that the State of Connecticut will reimburse the Town for a portion of the project).
Throughout the spring and summer of 2019, the FHS Building Committee as well as its four subcommittees (Communication, Financial, Professional Partnership, and Site Evaluation) met regularly in public session to undertake their charge.
In June, The Committee hired Construction Solutions Group (CSG) of West Hartford as its Owner’s Representative – or professional project manager – through a competitive bid process.
After an extensive review of 14 Town-owned properties and 12 privately owned properties, the Site Evaluation Subcommittee deemed that a section of the West Woods Golf Course was the only site that could potentially hold a new FHS facility. After in-depth review, however, the subcommittee discovered that numerous deed restrictions would prevent use of that land. The FHS Building Committee subsequently voted to keep the current municipal campus (that includes the current FHS, Town Hall, Library, and Staples House) as the location for any FHS facility project. See the report for full details.
In September, the FHS Committee hired two local architectural firms – TSKP Studio of Hartford and QA+M of Farmington – to engage in a competitive process to each develop three conceptual designs (maintain, renovate, and build new) for an FHS facility project. Initial cost estimates were also to be included. In January of 2020, both firms presented their respective proposals to the FHS Building Committee during heavily attended public sessions.
The FHS Building Committee met on Wednesday, January 29 to review all the conceptual design proposals and determine a recommendation for Town Council. After two hours of public comments followed by another two-and-a-half-hours of careful deliberation, the FHS Building Committee voted unanimously to recommend the New Build Option presented by TSKP.
The FHS Building Committee will now present the proposals along with the Committee’s recommendation to the Town Council on Tuesday, February 4 at 7:00 PM in the FHS Auditorium. Town Council will then determine an overall project scope (i.e., which option to pursue) and set the net municipal cost (the amount the town itself would pay for the project; it is expected that the State of Connecticut will reimburse the Town for a portion it). Town Council will also charge the FHS Building Committee with developing a final plan that will ultimately go to a public vote at a referendum currently planned for October 2020.