FAQ

Q. Why is the FHS Building committee recommending a new high school?

A. The Farmington High School Building Committee (FHSBC) evaluated three options from two architectural firms. They included maintaining the current facility, doing major renovation on the current facility, or building a new school. The committee evaluated each option based on the following criteria:

  • Local, state, and federal requirements

  • Programmatic needs

  • Consolidation of space

  • Building systems

  • Site Improvements

  • Benefits to the community

  • Fit and feel for the Town of Farmington

After a rigorous review process, the FHSBC recommended building a new high school, designed by Hartford architectural firm TSKP Studio, to Town Council.  On February 4, 2020, the Town Council unanimously voted to select the TSKP New Build option as the project scope and set a net municipal cost range for the project at $105 to $110 million. 

The new high school building will include efficient, functional, and flexible learning spaces that meet safety, health local and state regulations.

Q. What are the major issues that led the committee to recommend construction of a new high school building?

  • Accreditation and Accessibility. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges has placed FHS on “warning” status for “serious facilities deficiencies, including ADA access, heating and ventilation problems, leaky roof, inadequate science, cafeteria, auditorium, and library and media facilities, and other facilities issues that limit educational opportunities for students.”

  • Security Compliance. FHS has already experienced seven additions/renovations before heightened security expectations were a consideration.

  • Sprawling Layout. FHS is a large, inefficient, mostly one floor facility with too many long and narrow hallways

  • Educational Programming. FHS is nearing its capacity to provide 21st Century programming and learning spaces that prepare students for the future.

  • Energy Efficiency. FHS is not energy efficient and is not cost-effective.

Q. What other options did the fhs building committee review before selecting a new high school?

A. The FHS Building Committee engaged two architectural firms to complete three conceptual designs each, which included an option for maintaining the current facility, doing major renovation on the current facility, or building a new school.  Below is a summary of the options that were reviewed and why they were not selected.

  • Maintain Option at a project cost of $49M

This was this least expensive concept but was not even considered a suitable solution by the architects presenting it.  This concept was a required submission by the building committee to understand the cost of maintaining the building and doing nothing more. It did not meet the statement of needs or safety requirements, required additional capital expenditures, and caused significant disruption to learning during construction.

  •  Maintain “Light” Option at a project cost of $99M

This concept went beyond maintenance by adding an addition, but still did not meet the full statement of needs, safety concerns remained and it caused significant disruption to learning

  •  Two Renovate as New Options at a project cost of $138 - $140 Million

Both renovate as new options met the majority of the statement of needs and did provide flexible learning environments, but only addressed some of the safety concerns, left concerns around project duration and cost due to unknowns during the renovation and would lead to significant disruption to learning during construction due to a phased renovation approach.

The following chart was displayed to Town Council on February 4, 2020, to summarize the committee’s evaluation of the options and recommendation of a new building.

*The State Reimbursement rates in January 2020, when these options were presented to and evaluated by the FHS Building Committee were, up to 30% for a renovation, and up to 20% for a new building. The 2021 rates for Farmington are now up to 28.93% for renovation and up to 18.93% for a new building.

*The State Reimbursement rates in January 2020, when these options were presented to and evaluated by the FHS Building Committee were, up to 30% for a renovation, and up to 20% for a new building. The 2021 rates for Farmington are now up to 28.93% for renovation and up to 18.93% for a new building.

Q. DID YOU LOOK AT AN ALTERNATE SITE FOR A NEW HIGH SCHOOL?

A. Yes, the Site Evaluation Subcommittee conducted a full review of over 25 potential alternate sites in Farmington. After a comprehensive analysis, it was determined that the current municipal site was the only viable option. A detailed analysis is available here.

Q. Does the design of the new building provide safeguards against future pandemics?

A. While maintaining proper social distancing and wearing face coverings are probably most effective in reducing the risk of exposure to a virus, certain features in the design of buildings can certainly help. The new FHS building will have larger classrooms, wider corridors, easily cleanable surfaces and touchless plumbing features. It will have new ventilation systems, a higher level of air filtration, and the ability to automatically flush air out of the building on a regular basis.  Also, the ventilation system will have separate zones that will make it easier to separate different cohorts of students and staff, and to isolate zones in order to prevent cross-contamination.

Q. who are the town officials and committees in charge of the process?

A. Members of the Town Council, Board of Education, and Farmington High School Building Committee are working collaboratively on the FHS building project. See list of members here.

Q. How disruptive will building a new school be for students, teachers, and others?

A. There will be no disruption to teaching and learning during construction. There will be a fenced off section that will be clearly marked that separates the current high school from the building site.

Q. When will the Town referendum be held? How Do I vote in the referendum?

A. The Town Council set a target referendum date of June 3, 2021. Once the Town Council officially sets the final date, it will be posted on the Town, Board of Education, and FHS Building Committee websites. In order to vote in the referendum, you must be registered by Friday, May 28, 2021. Please visit https://www.farmington-ct.org/departments/registrar-of-voters to register or check your status.

Q. What are the costs for building a new high school, and tax implications for a homeowner?

A. The estimated total project cost is approximately $135.6 million. The Town Council set a net municipal cost range for this project at $105 to $110 million, which the FHS Building Committee is committed to delivering a project below the net municipal project maximum. This will be offset by reimbursement from the State of Connecticut, estimated at approximately $26.3 million.

Because of Farmington’s ongoing retirement of existing capital projects bonded debt, there will only be five years (Fiscal Years 2023 to 2027), that the high school project will increase the property tax. The tax impact for the average Farmington/Unionville homeowner, with an assessed value of $226,777 is estimated to be $466 in total over those five years, averaging $93 per year, or under $8 per month.

Fore more information, visit the Project Cost page.

Q. What is the proposed project timeline?

A. The estimated project timeline is as follows:

Project Timeline.PNG

Q. how will a new high school benefit the community?

A. High quality schools protect property values. Realtors routinely cite the quality of our school system for promoting home ownership in Farmington. Farmington High School also is home to many recreational and educational programs. Over 150 Adult and Continuing Education classes and more than 125 groups use the school’s classrooms, library, cafeteria, gymnasium and auditorium. These classes and group activities generate additional revenue. The new facility will better serve sports and recreation, performing arts, and clubs and organizations in our community.

Q.WILL THE BUILDING BE ABLE TO BE USED BY THE COMMUNITY IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY?

A. An emergency generator is included in the project. The generator will be sized to allow critical systems to operate in the event of a power outage in Farmington. In addition, the building is designed so that selected areas can be opened to residents if their homes have been affected by severe weather events. Food service areas can continue to operate, as well as bathrooms and showers in the new building.

Q. what reviews or studies have been conducted to determine the statement of need?

A.  The following reviews and studies have been conducted to determine the FHS Statement of Need:

Q. What are the enrollment projections for farmington high school?

A. Based on a detailed enrollment projection report created in November 2019, enrollment will increase to 1,404 students by 2029, which represents a 10% increase of the current enrollment. View a summary slide of the report here, and read the full report here.

Enrollment Projection.PNG

Q. WHY HAS FARMINGTON HIGH SCHOOL BEEN PLACED ON “WARNING STATUS” BY THE NEW ENGLAND ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES (NEASC)? WHAT WOULD A LOSS OF ACCREDITATION MEAN FOR FARMINGTON HIGH SCHOOL?

A. At this time, NEASC has placed FHS on warning status in the Community Resources for Learning standard - ADA compliance issues, lack of accessibility, etc., but mostly because the building limits our ability to deliver improved programming for students. We have been on warning for many years and we are accountable to explain to NEASC why we haven’t addressed the deficiencies noted in the Community Resources for Learning standard of NEASC’s seven standards for accreditation.  When we report to NEASC on a regular basis, we continue to state that we are in the design, development and approval phases of the FHSBC’s new high school project. By working toward a new high school project that would fully address all deficiencies noted by NEASC, we have stalled further action by NEASC related to our warning status. 

However, if we fail to move forward,  we risk being placed on “Probation” - a status made known to the public, along with other schools and colleges.  

Ultimately, the  loss of accreditation could have the following consequences:

1 - Ineligibility to apply for federal grant monies

2 - Not allowed to be a site for College Board testing (SAT / AP) - our students would have to go to another school for testing

3 - Students at risk for scholarship awards

4 - Students at risk for admission into most competitive colleges and universities

5 - Significant negative impact on property values due to families seeking high quality education, especially at the high school level which would tarnish the town’s reputation


Q. Will the 1928 Building be demolished as part of the fhs building project?

A. No, the Town Council directed the FHS Building Committee NOT to include the 1928 Building as part of the cost or scope of the proposed new high school project, as a decision on the future of the 1928 Building will be determined at a later date by the Town.

Q. Why is the 900 Wing of the School being renovated as part of the proposed design?

A. First and foremost, the 900 wing is needed for FHS field house locker rooms.  The field house locker rooms are critical to our athletic program and are currently located in the 900 wing in our proposed new FHS facility.  These are expanded locker rooms because we currently do not have the correct number of locker rooms in our current facility which is in conflict with federal requirements.

Second, the use of the 900 wing to house our district-wide technology department will expand instructional space at the new FHS facility for our students because that department is currently taking up square footage (2 classrooms and office space) within the current high school.  Our district-wide technology department supports technology infrastructure and operations in all seven schools and for Town Hall.  We do not have adequate space at Town Hall to house our Technology Department, so this department is currently off-site in the FHS facility. By freeing up this space, we capture more instructional space for students in the proposed new FHS facility.  

Lastly and most importantly, Farmington has one of the smallest staff levels for Central Office in the entire state of Connecticut.  We rank 155 out of 166 towns in general administration with 1 spending the most and 166 spending the least.  Only 11 other school districts in Connecticut spend less than Farmington on Central Office administration, yet we experience favorable and impressive achievement outcomes.  Due to the efficient staffing levels within Central Office, the 900 wing will house the following Central Office departments in a reasonable level of square footage:

  • Technology

  • Special Services

  • Finance and Operations

  • Human Resources

  • Facilities

  • Curriculum and Instruction

Currently, Central Office and Special Services are located at Town Hall. Town Hall is home to many Town departments, but some are located in satellite offices because they cannot be accommodated in the current space at Town Hall. The Regional Probate Court is also is located at Town Hall, which has its own significant space needs. The overcrowding at Town Hall has also contributed to a lack of storage space as well as meeting/conference room space. 

The pandemic brought to light other issues within the Central Office due to a lack of social distancing due to overcrowding within our limited office space.  We will need to move out of Central Office no matter what due to overcrowding between the school district departments and the Town of Farmington departments which will require funding.  The use of the 900 wing is the most cost effective approach to fully maximize the space within the 900 wing.  This will avoid a costly purchase of a space for Central Office within Farmington or costly lease options.  

Q. what will happen if this project doesn’t pass at referendum?

A. The referendum vote for the new FHS does not follow the same rules as a town budget vote. The referendum will pass or fail no matter how many people cast their ballots. 

  • If the referendum doesn't pass, the Town Council would determine the next step. The deficiencies of the current FHS facility are not going away and they will need to be addressed.  The cost of doing nothing does have a cost, especially given the significant deficiencies of the Current FHS facility.  

  • NEASC would be informed of the failed referendum and would evaluate the impact of that result on Farmington High School accreditation.

Q. HOW IS THE FHS BUILDING PROJECT PLANNING TO MITIGATE SURROUNDING NEIGHBORHOOD IMPACTS?

A. The FHS Building Committee has met twice with members of the neighborhood that immediately surround the current FHS site. The goal of those meetings was to present the site plan, construction timeline, and address questions and concerns. Communication with the surrounding neighborhood will continue throughout construction and the current plan includes the following strategies to address neighbor concerns:

  • Placement of the new building to allow for public access on the opposite side of the abutting neighborhood

  • Appropriate site and parking lot lighting 

  • Berm plantings along the property line that could be scheduled prior to construction

  • Easy and safe pedestrian access to the current FHS facility during construction

Q. WHAT IS THE “QUIET PERIOD” FOR THE TOWN/TOWN OFFICIALS?

A. According to the SEEC (State Election Enforcement Commission), "No expenditures of state or municipal funds shall be made to influence any person to vote for approval or disapproval of any such proposal or question or to otherwise influence or aid the success or defeat of the referendum" once the referendum date has been officially set to pending status by Town Council. The period of time between when the referendum pending date is set (May 11th) and the day of the vote (June 3rd) is commonly known as the "quiet period" since the town-funded communications are drastically reduced in order to prevent violation of CT General Statue 9-369b.

Q. HOW WILL PARKING IMPROVE AT THE NEW SCHOOL?

The redesigned school site will provide expanded on-site parking for visitors and staff with 590 dedicated school spaces provided throughout the campus. There are a minimum of 15 accessible spaces included in the parking count to meet the required code. The majority of parking and bus access will be consolidated to the south side of the new school building in dedicated areas for each. Buses will be routed to the east and circulated through a loop with 45 degree parking spaces limiting bus traffic into the site and any comingling of student drivers, visitors, and parent drop off. The dedicated bus area will accommodate bus loading spaces for 22 full size buses. The spaces will allow for arrival and departure of buses without backing up. A dedicated parent pickup and drop-off lane will parallel the school’s main entry walks and will accommodate queuing of 24 cars. Site parking is redesigned entirely, with the majority of student parking in two east side lots. Staff parking will be to the north of the new building as will service access. Parking islands will accommodate shade trees and sidewalks in specific locations to aid in wayfinding and safe travel through the lots.