Westlake Residents and Parents of Academy Students,
We are going to depart from our often used format of the video wrap-up and provide you with a broader written explanation of one of the topics discussed by the Town Council last Monday evening, the 28th of February. The overall agenda contained a variety of topics such as citizen/parent comments, consent agenda items, approval of resolutions and ordinances, an update on the facilities for the campus, and a sports package upgrade for our athletics programs.
As you might imagine, the majority of the time was spent discussing the potential for academic and athletic facility updates at Westlake Academy. Our facilities director, Troy Meyer, presented a comprehensive update of our options on this subject, which was posted on our website and a variety of social media platforms Monday evening. He was joined by our architect firm, Bennett Partners, and provided an overview of the options to expand the footprints of some of our school buildings. We have also had a very generous offer of funds, donated by an Academy family, to upgrade our sports fields and components of our athletic program. I will provide you with an overview of both areas of improvement – buildings and athletics.
For our academic facilities – Staff presented three main options, with a recommendation of Option #2.
Update the existing portable buildings through the removal of all or a portion of the existing structures and replace them with brand new portables, which would address some of the basic concerns with the age of the current portable buildings.
Add on to our existing Arts & Sciences building with a two-story structure on the west side (closest to PYP). This option would provide three science labs, two art rooms, and seven classrooms. It would also allow us to move the majority of the classes out of the existing portable buildings and address the immediate needs for art space and science labs that had been identified by staff as campus improvements.
Add on to three buildings - Arts & Sciences building (one-story addition), the secondary school building, and build a ‘pod’ for Kindergarten and administration on the west side of our existing Primary school building structure.
All three options have their own set of pros and cons. Council ultimately directed Staff to bring back a modified option, which would increase the height of Option #2 (the proposed addition to the Arts & Sciences building) to three stories, thus allowing us to move all the current classes out of the portables and into this structure. The Council would also like to evaluate the costs associated with this vertical expansion, view the massing of the structure, and hear from Staff on what classroom space an additional third-floor option might give the campus for future enrollment needs. Our architects were also on hand for questions and provided a time estimate of 60 days for this analysis. They will work on renderings and estimates to help the Town Council visualize the structure and give an idea of the project costs.
As you can imagine, this is a complex conversation that involves many variables. The Town Council also discussed the following:
- our current admission numbers and the demand for enrollment at the school, and
- the amount of cash on hand to help fund this type of capital improvement, and
- programming for the space – meaning, what areas would be used for classrooms, cafeteria space, flex space, etc.), and
- how the Westlake Academy Foundation parent group might assist through a fundraising campaign, and
- the potential legal requirement to obtain voter approval for the issuance of any debt for the projects, and
- what happens if the voters do not approve the issuance of a bond for the project, and
- what it means if it is approved and how it may affect the ad valorem tax rate for the municipality.
For the sports package upgrades, the Town Council approved the following:
- Upgrades to the Gym through the renovation of the existing locker rooms, new bleachers, additional storage, lighting enhancements, and acoustic wall panels to help with noise
- Renovate the Field House by installing larger lockers, upgrading the coaches’ area, restrooms, installing a whirlpool, and providing more storage
The Council also asked Staff to bring back a report on the drainage issues surrounding our current sports fields as we explore options to install Astroturf on both the soccer and football field, upgrade the existing bleachers, potentially install a running track around the football field, and other enhancements based on the drainage improvements. All of this is made possible by a generous donation of a Westlake Academy family who would like to help us enhance our athletic fields and overall program!
I hope this has given you some additional insight into the work of the Council and helps explain the complexity of their decisions. I will not have done justice to ALL of the conversations and encourage you to either listen to the audio archive of the meeting, review the academic and sports presentations from Staff, and/or call me for additional information. I am available for any questions about the agenda. This communication is meant to provide you with the highlights from the discussions. Staff will bring the academic building option back toward the end of April and the sports package upgrades based on how quickly we can work with a consultant on the drainage improvements.
Westlake Town Manager and Westlake Academy Superintendent