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Legacy Planning Update: Redesign Ideas for QHS Shared with Board

August 11, 2015
 
Board members listen as architects discuss one option for a redesign of Queensbury High School After two years of development, the community’s vision for Queensbury High School now has a concept design for renovations that would better support a 21st-century education program. That design was shared with the Queensbury Board of Education during its meeting on Monday, Aug. 10.
 
In October, the Board of Education is expected to vote on holding a public referendum in December for a capital project to finance those renovations.
 
The concept design shared at the board meeting (pictured at right) is an extensive reimagining of the 52-year-old high school. “The design of the building currently is a lot of cut up spaces. It was made in order to educate students quickly by department, but today’s 21st-century learning standards are not consistent with that at all. We need flexible space. We need interdisciplinary opportunities for students to learn, not the industrial model that we have now,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Douglas W. Huntley at the meeting.
 
Two representatives from the CSArch architectural firm presented the high school design, which was inspired by the district’s educational legacy planning efforts. It reorganizes and renovates the current rigid structure to:
  • Provide three interdisciplinary instructional communities ─ instead of subject-area silos ─ in the humanities (English language arts, social studies, foreign language), STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and the fine and performing arts. 
  • Allow for greater collaboration among faculty and students through extended learning areas that are more flexible than the traditional classroom and that provide collaboration, socialization and enrichment opportunities. These areas would be dispersed throughout the instructional communities. 
  • Centralize support services such as the High School Counseling Center, psychological and social services, and the nurse’s office in the main school corridor to increase the ease of access for students and parents.
  • Increase the usability of school-community spaces by opening up the cafeteria to the Blue Gym lobby, relocating the media center and a large-group room to the front of the building, and renovating seats in the auditorium.
  • Enhance security by providing a more secure school entrance and more clear sight lines in student areas, which puts learning on display while allowing for improved oversight. Centralizing support services and school-community spaces along a main corridor would also allow the school to more easily prevent unauthorized public access to classroom areas.
  • Conserve energy where possible such as by replacing original, energy inefficient windows and walls.
Board members look at an image of organizing design principles “In this design, the core of the building could be isolated for multi-use purposes such as concerts, forums, meetings and sporting events without visitors getting into any of the academic wings,” said Huntley.
 
The initial concept design was developed by a district Facilities Committee, which included administrators and board members, in conjunction with CSArch.
 
That committee’s work was informed by the educational philosophy and values of the Queensbury community at large, through two community education summits and numerous focus groups. Visit the legacy planning results Web page to view videos, photos, presentations and the Conceptual Educational Specifications document developed during the past two years of educational legacy planning efforts.
 
A final design and costs are still in development, but the district could complete about $38-40 million in renovations with no additional local tax impact due to state building aid and debt retirement.
 
“One of the only ways communities get their state taxes back is by embarking on a project that qualifies for state building aid,” said Huntley. “This project would allow the community to invest in its educational program without increasing taxes.”
 
Visit the district legacy planning Web page for more information on the legacy planning process in Queensbury. Capital project updates will be posted on the district website as they become available.