Cafe Remodel would Hike RHHS Renovation Cost

The school board's facilities committee has suggested changing the high school's cafeteria to a college dormitory-style eatery.


A member of the Board of Education's facilities committee suggested Tuesday remodeling the cafeteria in so students could eat in waves, similar to a college cafeteria. But the architect for the project said that plan would likely boost the costs of the high school renovation project.

Tuesday's meeting was called to discuss the specifications for the proposed $40.8 million high school renovation project. The specifications will be used by the architect and building committee to design the renovations. The state is expected to reimburse the town about 44 percent of the project's costs, leaving taxpayers here to pay the remaining $25.7 million.

In the educational specifications, the size of the cafeteria would increase to accommodate seating for 380 students in three lunch waves. The basic layout of the lunchroom would remain the same, with multiple serving lines added to the kitchen area.

Board member Brian Dillon suggested changing the configuration of the cafeteria to a "scatter system," which is similar to a college dormitory lunchroom. A scatter system lunchroom has several different stations for food options, such as salads, sandwiches and other options, instead of the customary double hot lunch lines.

However, the project's architectural consultant, Michael Sorano, said there is no budget for a scatter system lunchroom in the current educational specifications because it would increase the space and cost of the project.

"Of course, we can do that," he said, but added, "this (space) is not big enough for what you need to do."

Sorano did not provide an estimate what the changes would cost.

During the , Assistant Principal how difficult it was to schedule the lunch periods and how it impacted students.

"This was a big complaint by the administration," Sorano said Tuesday night.

Dillion suggested possibly expanding the high school building in certain areas and felt the cafeteria may be one of the areas that needed to be expanded.

"We are going to build this school and we are still going to have problems," Dillon said.

agreed with Dillon and said most schools in the area are moving toward the "scatter system" format, which would help promote

"The day of the old hot lunch at least at the high school level is gone," he said.

Winzler wanted to make sure if there were a boom of families in town, the cafeteria would be able to accommodate all the students without changing their schedules.

Board member John Bedlack was willing to eliminate the visiting team locker rooms that were purposed in the project to increase the size of the cafeteria and keep costs down. He wanted the expanded cafeteria because it affected more students than the locker rooms.

The board came to a census to have the construction manager and Sorano draw up plans with a "scatter system" cafeteria and determine what the cost and space increase would be. Sorano said by implementing the "scatter system" cafe, it is expected to increase the size of the project by 1,000 square feet.

Board member Chris Buckbee was reluctant to increase the size of the cafeteria because of the addition costs to the project. However, he agreed to explore the option of changing the format of the cafeteria.

"It is just too much money," he said. "We can't have everything, we need to prioritize."

After the new educational specifications are brought back to the Board of Education, Dillon said they could decide whether other projects or areas in the school can be changed to help offset the cost of the expanded cafe.

The Board of Education will hold a special meeting today at 7 p.m. in the Board of Education training/conference room at the , followed by a joint meeting of the curriculum and facilities committees at 7:15 p.m. on the educational specifications.

Joseph Leal February 23, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Would the existing food service provider chip in some of the renovation/expansion costs?
Lynn MacDonald, Owner Rocky Hill Yoga & More February 23, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Just a thought.....How about checking out other schools and get a flavor for what they have done and how their process of school lunches is working. We have way too many lunch periods, kids eating lunch in the morning and late afternoon.
Frank Drumm February 23, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Are the "educational specifications" referred to the article available to the public online or otherwise? Who prepared the "educational specifications" and when?


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