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Request for bids for school site should be out this summer

Date: 6/16/2010

June 16, 2010.

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- With the vote on June 3 by the School Committee to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find a new site for the Renaissance School, work has begun on determining the parameters for the location.

"The RFP is currently being drafted and mandatory criterion is still being worked out. Square footage and parking availability are likely to be included in the mandatory criteria. The mission and goals of Renaissance School will be a driving factor in the mandatory criterion of the RFP," Azell Cavaan, chief communications officer for the School Department told Reminder Publications.

The Renaissance School has shared space with Van Sickle School and Renaissance School parents, students and staff have long lobbied for the school to have a separate facility.

Last month during budget meetings the City Council learned of a School Department proposal to rent space at the Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) Technology Park at a cost of $1 million to $1.4 million a year.

The city's Chief Administrative and Finance Officer, Lee Erdmann, said the decision to use an RFP to find a site would be left up to the School Department.

The issue of the space required by the school was addressed in a memo dated May 26 from Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dan Warwick to School Committee member Christopher Collins.

Warwick wrote, "The information that you requested at the Building & Maintenance Subcommittee meeting is as follows:

• The gross square footage of the Van Sickle/Renaissance building is 286,495 square feet.

• The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) recommended square footage per student is 164 square feet per student at the middle school level and 173 square feet per student at the high school level.

• The square footage per student at the Van Sickle/Renaissance building is 177 at this time.

• The square footage of the proposed space at STCC is 103,000 square feet. This would translate into 156 square feet per student at the new Renaissance School."

School Committee member Antonette Pepe wondered why the city would want to move the Renaissance School into a smaller space.

Responding to the issue of space, Caavan said, "The amount of space that will be needed is still being worked out. We will start design plans using the maximum amount recommended by the MSBA, which is 182 square feet per child when you combine middle school with high school. That maximum allowable number will be the starting point and designers will work down from that figure to determine the right amount of space that adequately meets the school's needs."

She added, "The FY2011 School Department budget earmarks about $1 million for the relocation of Renaissance School, which is not intended to cover any costs associated with build-outs."

"The intention is to have the RFP ready before August. There will likely be a three to four week window for bidders to respond," she said.