21st Century Learning is the Focus of the Palmer Center and Alvirne Renovation Project

May 5, 2017


by Len Lathrop

The renovation project that staff members and community volunteers have worked on for almost a year was revealed to the Hudson School Board of Education on Monday evening at the school board meeting.  Alvirne principal Steven Beals, CTE director Karen Worthen and Architect Lance Whitehead, who has worked with the renovation committee, presented the conceptual design to the elected body.

The Wilbur H. Palmer Career and Technical Education Center has become eligible for state funding for renovation.  As the committee began meeting last January, many benefits to students and families were outlined.  These included: Addresses Current and Future Needs, Emphasizes Career and Technical Skills to Students, Increases Student Employment Rates, Increases Curriculum Aspects in CTE Classes, Creates Safe, Modern, Learning Environments, Addresses Safety and Security for the schools, Allows for Improved Arts Opportunities, Increases Athletic Facilities, Addresses Current and Future Needs for Special Education and Addresses Issues with Kitchen and Cafeteria.  The presenters mentioned several times that the plans were conceptual and the estimated cost of $40-45 million for the total project (included soft costs) could be eligible for $20 million in state funding.

The renovation will modernize the Career Technical Education areas to reflect industry standards, Safe CTE labs with upgraded modem equipment, improve space for Special Education, improve access for public for CTE programs; along with increased visibility and interest in CTE programs for students, Increased performing Arts space, improved athletic space, ADA and code issues, secure access for visitors, parents, deliveries, replacement and upgrades to mechanical systems, electrical systems, Data/IT systems; extension and upgrade to plumbing and fire protection; new program space to meet students’ interest and market data.

With brick and mortar walls, a new gym and locker rooms and supportive space for training and storage, new classrooms for Special Education with direct outside access, the current gym becomes a Performing Arts Center for between 600 to 800 people, new restaurant and kitchen for Checker’s Restaurant, new cafeteria space for students that is not also a path to connect other school facilities, new bus routes and one main entrance for students and visitors.  Parking where bus, walking and cars don’t all vie for the same pathway.  New parking lot across Route 102 with light control crossing to main entrance.  New adult day care teaching center with direct parking lot access.

As the project progresses everyone needs to see plans and models to see the improvements.  The renovation committee will continue to refine the plans and hold more public information meetings.

Hudson voters will be asked to approve this $40 to $45 million project at the town election in March of 2018.  Everything is conceptual at this time, but many hours have been spent in understanding the needs of the students and what teaching space will be needed for a 21st century education.  The Alvirne building was rebuilt in 1974-1975 after the fire, and the Palmer CTE Center is 24 years old.  The project will be funded with a 30-year bond; the current bond for the Hills Garrison School will be paid out before the new bond for this project is established.