Council hires Academy architect for second opinion
Later this summer, the Westlake Town Council plans to review a new facilities master plan and capital improvement plan for Westlake Academy, which leaders say has been outgrown by its student population.
Council members in March awarded an estimated $35,000 contract to Bennett Benner Pettit, the academy’s original architecture firm, to produce a report that will help them plan financially for a future expansion of the school.
Westlake Academy serves more than 600 kindergarten through 12th-grade students, but its charter with the state allows for an enrollment of about 800 students.
Westlake Academy Superintendent Tom Brymer, who is also the town’s manager, said the academy has already outgrown its facility and the Council anticipates student enrollment will grow at the municipally owned charter in the coming years. There are also about 800 students who live outside the town limits on a waiting list to get in.
“We need more dining room facilities, that gymnasium gets an incredible amount of use,” Westlake spokeswoman Ginger Awtry said. “The Council has been looking for a while … on possible expansion and addition of students, therefore leading to addition of buildings.”
In March 2011, Peter Hayes of Project Management Services Inc. presented the Council with a campus facilities report that presented various expansion options and identified the need for more than $13 million in campus additions.
One option included building a “cafetorium” — a combined gym and dining hall — and adding 12 portable buildings to the property over the next five years. Other suggestions included a media center, a middle school, a high school and a primary school addition.
Bennett Benner Pettit CEO Michael Bennett will now review that report to offer a second opinion, identifying the construction costs associated with needs based on a number of enrollment scenarios. His plan is expected to go before the Council later this summer.
Although the total project cost and construction timeline for a possible campus expansion has yet to be determined, Town Council members — who also serve as the academy’s board of trustees — are planning for the future.
The Council on April 23 approved a five-year, $43 million capital improvement plan for Westlake, which outlined 40 proposed projects from road reconstruction and park improvements to the construction of new facilities. The Westlake Academy campus expansion was among the planned projects, but did not include a specific earmarked amount.
“Hopefully we end up with a facilities plan that is approved by the board of trustees and that becomes our road map for the school in terms of facility planning that then we can use for our capital improvement planning,” Brymer said.