Brother Rice approved for improvement plan
By Kevin Elliott
The first phase of a long-term plan to improve efficiencies and retain enrollment at Brother Rice High School, 7101 Lahser Road, was approved on Monday, February 13, by the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees.
The first phase of the project includes a 9,000-square-foot building addition and reconfigured parking lot, including a redesigned student pick-up and drop-off area south of McInerney Drive. The building addition will create a new entrance/exit area, and allow for an enhanced common space and academic area. The student pick-up/drop-off area will incorporate a traffic loop allowing for easier entry and exit. Left and right-hand turn lanes will be added to the area, as well as pedestrian walkways and landscaping. The student area will be accessible through a separate entrance to reduce crowding
Architect Paul Stachowiak, who also serves on the school’s design committee, said the work is part of a larger phased project intended to stabilize student population and enhance the overall educational experience.
“The goal was to make what they have more relevant to today’s parents and students, given the space they need to conduct their operations,” he said.
School officials said last year that the plan is intended to help current students and retain current enrollment numbers, rather than attract more students or build increases in enrollment.
Brother Rice High School President Tom Reidy said the school has about 600 students, but the current configuration places several limitations on staff and students. For instance, the size of the cafeteria requires six separate lunch schedules, which leads to scheduling issues. The expansion and future work will allow the cafeteria, gym and other components to be reconfigured, ultimately expanding the cafeteria and gym.
“It’s a phenomenal presentation and re-use of the property, and bringing it up to better use of facilities for students,” said trustee Neal Barnett. “Hopefully you see it all the way through because certainly it’s in need. It’s a great school, but needs integration facilities-wise.”
Trustee Michael Schostak concurred. “I think this is a great plan,” he said. “Obviously, we see all schools, especially private schools, are fighting for enrollment, and I assume this will be a big help.”