Concord, New Hampshire
From The Concord Monitor:
St. Paul's School will break ground this spring on a $50 million math and science center to replace 1950s facilities built for far fewer students.
The 78,000-square-foot Lindsay Family Center for Mathematics and Science will open for the fall 2011 semester with 14 science labs and 21 classrooms, as well as study spaces and faculty offices, according to officials at the school. The building will replace a math facility and an overflowing science building where laboratory equipment is wheeled between classrooms.
St. Paul's has planned to replace its math and science facilities for more than 10 years, and in the last five years that goal emerged as a strategic priority for the elite boarding school, according to Rector Bill Matthews.
"For space reasons it was critical, but more importantly we came to a place where we felt the interdisciplinary and pedagogic advantages were so significant that now was the time to move ahead with it," Matthews said from New York City, where the president of the school's Board of Trustees last night announced approval for construction.
The school has raised the entire expected cost of the project, which includes a structure estimated at $33 million in addition to the cost of equipment and an endowment for maintenance, Matthews said.
Amid the tough economic landscape, St. Paul's has frozen hiring for jobs other than teaching and safety, has allowed enrollment to grow by about 10 students, and has announced plans to cut its golf and alpine skiing programs.
Despite the economy, Matthews said, the board pushed ahead with the center because of the project's importance.
By breaking ground this spring, the school hopes to benefit from low construction costs.
The center will replace facilities that have stood through six decades on campus. Jeff Crosby, head of the school's science division, said the existing Payson Science Center, which will be torn down, was filled to its 270-student capacity when it opened. Enrollment in science courses has since more than doubled, he said.
"Historically St. Paul's had a more humanities-oriented student, and that isn't true anymore," Crosby said. "I think a big factor, probably the biggest factor, is the college admissions process rewards math and science, maybe unfairly so."
Though four-year students are required to take only three years of science, only 10 students out of 535 do not take a science course in any given semester, he said. About 70 students take two science classes.
Crosby said the expansion will allow St. Paul's to open its facilities more often to local elementary school students and residents. The school already hosts visits, particularly to its astronomy facilities, but the new building will accommodate more guests.