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School Facilities Study Committee Recommends New School Be Built

Committee presents its findings to the Board of Selectmen.

Back in 2006, a report was commissioned (and $119,000 spent) on the town's school building needs.

Five years later, the School Facilities Study Committee has revisted the findings outlined in that report and has come to the conclusion that not much has changed.

The committee, made of of School Department administrators, teachers, parents and a representative from both the Board of Selectmen and School Committee unveiled their findings in a Power Point presentation at the Selectmen's meeting Tuesday night.

According to Superintendent of Schools John O'Connor, the committee set out to verify the findings of the 2006 report and found that the four targeted schools -- Heath Brook, Trahan, North Street and Dewing -- either had the same problems as five years earlier or had developed new problems also.

Most of of the problems outlined in the report, ranging from roofs needing to be replaced, to subpar electrical systems to erosion to boiler and air conditioner problems have to do with the age of the buildings. The newest of the four, Dewing, is over 40 years old.

Committee member Anne Marie Stronach, the selectmen's representative on the committee, said none of the schools is in an emergency situation but that plans for dealing with the problems identified should be made sooner rather than later.

"We feel the schools are very safe and well equipped," said Stronach. "We just need to bring them up to speed."

In their presentation, the committee makes four recommendations for potential actions to deal with the building problems. The options range from building a new school to house all students in grades 1-4, with Dewing re-habbed to house Kindergarten all the way to simply doing the needed building repairs in a piece-meal way.

Committee member Krissy Polimeno, chairman of the School Committee, acknowledged that the school department had been remiss in keeping up with building maintenance over the years, allowing problems to fester. She said the goal, moving forward, is to be more aggressive with building upkeep.

Stronach said the committee planned to make the same presentation and recommendations to the School Committee next week, after which, she said, she believed the work of the committee would be completed and that the committee should be disbanded.

Stronach suggested that at some point, selectmen should form a School Building Committee to move forward with the next steps in the process. She said such a committee would likely need $10,000 of operating capital to get started and said there would need to be discussions with Town Manager Richard Montuori to try and find where those funds could be located in the budget.

The committee's Power Point presentation is attached to this story as a PDF document.

Fallon Family September 28, 2012 at 12:12 AM
it would get rid of the "lottery," I think they only have a certain amount of slots for kindergarten, so with a large school you would have ... a lot of slots
Fallon Family September 28, 2012 at 12:18 AM
the PDF gives 4 or 5 options Most of them say they would add onto some of them, tear down the other buildings and keep the Dewing for Kindergarten. Others say renovate all of them. Others say tear down all 4 schools and build one "super" building.
Friend of Ferncroft September 28, 2012 at 12:43 AM
After just having been notified that my mortage payment will go up an additional $125.00 per month due to Tax and Insurance increase, there needs to be some accountability for spending. Obviously the previous administration caused the majority of issues in this town. Mr Montouri has done his best to prop up the town in a time of financial stress. However, there needs to be a balance, i agree with the others we just can't say "It's old so tear it down and build a new one" Serious consideration needs to go in to a retrofit for the current buildings, much like what is considered with the town hall project. We don't have 10's of millions for another school. Pay off some of the outstanding debt and right the reserves before we have a HUGE issue!!
Eric braciska September 28, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Tewksbury $146 Million in debt.....currently paying $4-5 million annually just in interest payments. Sound familiar? Except on the national stage it's in trillions of dollars, not millions. That's not taking into consideration the grossly underfunded town Pension fund situation. It is simply unsustainable folks. The townspeople were told by our School Committe the $15 fee they recently voted in unanimously, upon each child participating in indoor rec sports, would go towards maintaining and or improving our school gyms and facilities. I believe that goes into effect 1/1/13. Curious if any one knows if the School Committee has set up a separate budget/fund for this yet? If so, I look forward to the newly waxed gym floors and improved maintenance we were told it would go towards. Or is this going to be just another $15 of your hard earned money dissapearing into thin air as most taxes and fees tend to do? I hope not. BTW.....our friends next door in Wilmington $0 long term debt. And here we are talking about new turf fields on top of it? Reckless with a capital R.
LC September 30, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Wow! So many mixed emotion on one thread. I moved here in 08 with the hopes that my children will thrive in this pretty town. The town is geographically pretty but the contents are awful. Our children don't have libraries in the school because of budget cuts, they have art and music once a week. I voted for the high school knowing fully my children will be educated privately for High school, we won't use it but it is for the good of the community. I would like to see the seniors take a step back and appreciate how a new school has added value to their propertyy so if they choose to sell it will only help them. Then the young family in town should appreciate the seniors for their votes on the new school. We are in a mess, no doubt but creating new schools will just add to confusion and delay. I would not feel comfortable seeing my 5 year old in a school with10-11 year olds. I think if our current schools can be rehabbed and given a greener approach it may save money in the long run. Why sell the buildings so another ugly building can go up in our pretty town!

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