November 27, 2023
Dear IAA Community,
Our goal is to provide a monthly update on this exciting project to seriously upgrade the learning environment at IAA. Our goal will be to give you the most up-to-date information so you can understand the plans and how they are evolving. We hope this helps answer questions, alleviate stress around the project, and create space for you to ask questions and give feedback along the way. The challenge with this strategy is that information may change as we learn more about the project. We have decided, based on your feedback that it is better to provide these regular updates, knowing changes may happen, so you are getting information in real time.
Below you will find a number of updates regarding the cost of the project, potential locations of classes, and more. The biggest update is that based on what we have learned in our planning with the design and construction team, we will likely need to begin and end the year with students at St. Marks and Sara Holbrook (pending final lease agreements). We realize this is a big change that will cause concern because we originally thought we would be able to complete the construction in phases and bring some students back into the building during the year. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the fastest and best way to get this project done is to leave the building empty for the year.
As you read the updates, keep in mind that things may still change, but I believe we are getting close to finalizing many of these pieces. As always, please feel free to reach out for clarification or with questions or comments.
Locations – After visiting St. Mark’s with the hopes of keeping our entire community intact, we’ve run into a hiccup. We have measured out all of the spaces and determined that we do not have enough room for all of our classes in this one location (see below). With that in mind, we have decided to plan to have grades 1-5 together at St. Marks and will offer kindergarten and PreK at another location (Sara Holbrook). Here is our proposal, please keep in mind that we are still working to finalize the details.
- Lease St. Mark’s to accommodate grades 1-5 (10 homerooms), including using the cafeteria as classroom space. Lease additional space at Sara Holbrook for all of PreK and K (this would be 3-4 classrooms). Students would remain in these buildings as a community for the entire school year.
- Set up a tent for lunch and some outdoor classroom space during non-winter months.
- Acquire and set up playground equipment.
- Create a temporary office for our Director of PreK at Sara Holbrook.
- Ask the Boys and Girls Club to run afterschool for Grades 1-3 at St. Marks (4-5 is at the Club).
- Transport students to and from IAA each day.
- Move our STEP program for first-year New Americans to Flynn.
Length of Project – Our initial plan was to work to get Grades 3-5 back into the school as soon as possible. However, as we dig deeper into the work that will be needed to really put forth a great renovation effort, we believe it will be best to keep all students off of the site until both phases are complete. Keeping students in their alternate school location will ensure our community stays together, allow us to offer better continuity of unified arts and administrative services, and minimize the disruptions (such as noise, parking, and space for contractors) that may otherwise occur on an active construction site. We know this is a change from previous thinking and I want to acknowledge that it is not the ideal scenario we had all hoped for.
Transportation Survey – As part of the move we are working on having school buses or similar transportation from IAA in the morning and back to IAA in the afternoon of each school day. This transportation will be optional and only for students who live in the 05401 zip code, south of the old Burlington High School on Institute Rd. If you will need transportation, please let us know by completing this form to help with our planning.
Scope of Work and Cost – We have received the first anticipated cost of Phase 1 of this project, which is only the cost of the HVAC upgrades. It is anticipated that this cost will be about $11.6M, despite only initially setting aside about $11.7m as our overall project budget. To address this, our team has been pushing back on initial estimates to see where there may be opportunities to reduce the costs of Phase 1. At the same time, we are working to find ways to commit additional resources to the project and also looking at ways to spread Phase 2 over multiple years to be able to afford the overall project. As you can see from our updated timeline below, we now are projecting to have an updated scope of work ready to discuss in early February.
Tentative Timeline (subject to change) –
- Bids Returned – ESSER-related project bids have been returned and we are going through a costing exercise; we have received some of the bids for the non-ESSER-funded portion but EEI is now saying they will need until the end of January to complete this portion of the work.
- Scope Finalized – While we had anticipated completing this work in mid-November, the latest news that we will not have bids until the end of January leads us to believe we will not be able to finalize the scope portion until early/mid-February.
- Alternate Location for Learning Finalized – Mid-November (tentative plan provided above)
- Transportation Questionnaire Out – Mid-November (provided above)
- Renovation Design of Alternative Learning Spaces at St. Marks – March/April 2024
- Non-displacing Work at IAA Begins – April 2024
- Renovations of Alternative Learning Spaces – June 2024
- Phase One and Two Completion – Spring 2025 (had anticipated December 31, 2024 for Phase 1 and March 2025 for Phase 2)
Explanation of Space Constraints at St. Marks – St. Mark’s has eight classrooms with the ability to increase to 12 classrooms, each at 600 sqft. However, kindergarten students require more square feet per student, which means if were to try to put all the students in one location, we would really only be able to accommodate 24 K students (it also means there is no room for PreK). This would impact families from enrolling in Kindergarten at IAA and presents problems with enrollment for the SY25 and beyond, as it is unlikely that we will add many more over the subsequent five years; the impact of this would likely be one that would see us having to reduce and/or change classroom teachers every year for the next five years. For these reasons, we believe having PreK and K at Sara Holbrook instead of St. Mark’s next year will be the best long-term solution.