14 February 2006

Wants and Cans

Two of our four junior high schools are slated for a bit of remodeling over the summer in order to accommodate full-year science for three grades. Today was the "kickoff" meeting for the planning.

One school has a $455K budget, which sounds like a lot...but won't be. I work in a building where the science area was overhauled last summer. Over $180K was spent to take out four walls, build two, move some demonstration tables and cabinetry---and make sure all the infrastructure was to code. The building with the big budget needs an entire new classroom plus some rather extreme retrofitting of the existing ones. This works out to ~$55/square foot...when the norm for this sort of thing is $180/square foot.

The other building just needs an existing room retrofitted. They have $155K to play with and should be fine.

The teachers who were present today didn't seem to understand the costs associated with all of this...nevermind that both of their buildings will be replaced in the next decade. It's easy to dream. It's fun to think of all the "wants" you have in designing a space, but we have to be realistic. Do you really need a sink for each and every lab group? Could you do fine with one for every two lab groups? Is it necessary to have hot and cold running water in the fume hoods? Does 7th grade Life Science require plumbed gas outlets at every lab station? An ideal job would cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2 million dollars.

We will continue these discussions tomorrow. Hopefully, I can bring the teachers back to Earth. What a bummer to have to face all of the "cans."

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