The Board of Trustees made several major decisions during their most recent meeting, including authorizing the renovation of several facilities, including Commons, and instating new financial aid programs for incoming and returning students of the 2007-2008 school year. “This winter’s Board of Trustees meeting was exceptionally productive in advancing the goals of our Strategic Plan,” said Head of School Barbara Chase. “The decisions made during this weekend will have profound implications for every aspect of academy life.” The board approved a $5 million dollar increase, from $81 million to $86 million, in the school’s operating budget. The increase serves to help the school in his competition with other schools as well as attract qualified students to the school. The budget includes compensation increases for faculty and staff, as well as other elements proposed by the senior administration. Since the school implemented the 2004 Strategic Plan, the percentage of students receiving financial aid increased from 36.5% to 41%, according to the The Gazette. The board agreed on several measures to make the Andover education affordable to a wider range of students. Instead of receiving student loans, a grant award will cover financial needs of both new and returning students in the next academic year. The 9.5% increase in the financial aid budget will also help support the 41% of the student body that currently receive financial aid. Students with the greatest needs, especially those who are unable to afford computers, will receive additional support through a new computer program that provides computers to students entering in September 2007. The largest renovation plan approved by the Trustees is for the renovation of Commons. Design plans for Commons will preserve the historical integrity of the existing building while enhancing it with the addition of a café, new state-of-the-art food preparation and serving facilities, a new north plaza area, a new west terrace, and an improved Ryley Room. Plans for the Commons renovation project are currently being developed by Schwartz/Silver Architects. The project will cost a total of $30 million, and the Office of Academy Resources (OAR) has already guaranteed $12 million to the construction. Work on the building will begin in December 2007 and is expected to take 15 months to complete. The temporary dining halls will be located in the old Smith ice rink in the Cage, which will be renovated to serve this purpose. “This newest renovation plan for Commons combines almost all of the best elements of the previous plans we reviewed,” said Chase. “We will be able to keep the worn marble staircase, the paneling and all the things about the existing structure we cherish so much, and also create the kind of community space that will enrich our campus life.” In response to the construction, Veda Eswarappa ’08 said, “I kind of think it would be cool, but I like Commons as it is right now.” The board approved improvements to other areas of the Andover campus as well. They permitted the installation of artificial turf in Phelps Stadium, and the funding has already been secured by the OAR. The new turf will be put into place this summer. Samuel Phillips Hall will also be renovated this summer in order to “promote collaboration between the World Language and Social Science departments,” said The Gazette. The school also plans to renovate the Addison Gallery and Bulfinch Hall. Funding for renovations to Addison gallery are being raised, while the renovations to Bulfinch are still in the designing process.