FAIRFAX — Bellows Free Academy Fairfax (BFA Fairfax) held its first public meeting last Thursday in the elementary school’s multi-purpose room to discuss a proposed $16 million renovation and expansion plan to revitalize the school’s middle and high school facilities.

The meeting is the first of four leading up to an October 10 vote to approve or deny the 30-year bond. If approved, the project has a tentative completion date in September 2019.

BFA Fairfax’s last renovation occurred 20 years ago – the addition of its elementary school – and much of the school remains “outdated” and inadequate, according to school board members and meeting moderators Rachelle LeVau and Scott Mitchell.

Scott Mitchell

BFA Fairfax board member Scott Mitchell discusses proposed renovations at the school during a meeting last Thursday.

With hopes of keeping BFA-Fairfax viable for the next 25 years, the Long-Range Facilities Planning Committee (LRFPC), comprised of community members, school board representatives, staff and administration, built a comprehensive renovation and expansion plan to improve safety, modernize the facilities and attract and retain students.

The most significant upgrades and renovations of the plan include: a new 400-seat auditorium with an adjacent art room, construction of a new middle school gym, a redesigned cafeteria, patio and courtyard; updated STEM [Science, technology, engineering and mathematics] labs with open collaborative learning spaces; expanded visitor parking with a revitalized main entrance; an updated and restored library and new floors, roofs, bathrooms and locker rooms.

LeVau and Mitchell reiterated throughout the meeting that they believe these potential renovations could be advantageous to students’ success beyond school.

“The technological advances in the past 30 years necessitate us building larger STEM labs, building more up-to-date STEM labs so that it creates a better learning environment,” said Mitchell. “The job of high school is not necessarily always to get kids ready to go to college, it’s to get kids ready for the world.”

For more on the proposed renovation, pick up a copy of Tuesday’s Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.