Science in focus for new SHS labs
Souhegan will solicit bids for changes to school facilities
AMHERST – Souhegan High School’s science labs need updating, but instead of merely adding new plumbing and countertops, school officials are considering major changes.
At their last meeting, Souhegan School Board members agreed to solicit bids for design plans for what Principal Rob Scully called "the next generation of science education."
Superficial renovations would still mean the facilities would be outdated, he said, so those working on a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) environment study decided to look at changing the physical plant.
The architectural firm that built the Amherst-Mont Vernon high school 25 years ago, Lavallee Brensinger, would be ideal, he said, since it did a good job with the building and employs the only person certified in New Hampshire to work on schools.
The firm has built high schools in Nashua and Windham, and Maine’s largest "next generation" high school.
Board members said Lavalle has a great reputation, but they balked at a quote of $30,000 for the design – three times what they had budgeted. They agreed they should put it out to bid.
"I like the idea of not throwing good money after bad," Chairwoman Mary Ann Mullins said, "and we shouldn’t be chintzy in how we do it. … This is where education is going. We need to do it right."
But $30,000 is a lot of money, and includes $9,000 for "community engagement."
"Let’s see what we can do ourselves and what they can pare down," Mullins said.
Improving STEM education is one of the School District’s goals.
"We want to bring our STEM labs up to date in order to have the best facilities to meet the future needs of students," Mullins said. "Education, and the way instruction is delivered, have changed a lot."
Mullins said community use of the buildings is also a consideration, and that Souhegan could be a center of science and technology acivities, the same way it’s a center of art and sports activities.
"We want a comprehensive plan that takes all of that into consideration, and a firm who knows how to execute it," she said.