New School Construction and Upgrades Eyed in New Bedford
When the New Bedford School Committee meets Monday night, two school construction items will be on the agenda.
The committee will decide whether to authorize Superintendent Thomas Anderson to submit "statements of interest" to the Massachusetts School Building Authority for a new consolidated elementary school in the South End and for major upgrades and repairs to Elwyn G. Campbell Elementary at 145 Essex St. in the far North End.
The new school would replace the John B. DeValles and James B. Congdon elementary schools located at 120 Katherine St. and 50 Hemlock St. The two are described as "obsolete buildings over 100 years old."
As for the Campbell School, funds would be sought for the upgrade or replacement of roofs, windows, doors, boilers, heaters and ventilation "to increase energy conservation and decrease energy related costs in a school facility."
At Campbell, the window and door systems are "antiquated" and the boilers and roof require replacement "as they show signs of contamination, deterioration, and repair," the agenda item reads.
According to a Jan. 7 memo from Anderson to Mayor Jon Mitchell, who is chairman ex officio of the School Committee, the current estimated cost for the new elementary school is $71.5 million, with an expected reimbursement from the state of 80 percent. The current estimate for upgrading the Campbell school is $6.8 million, with the state reimbursing about half of the cost.
Last year the City Council narrowly rejected a request from the School Department to seek replacement of the Congdon and DeValles schools.
When a school district submits a statement of interest (SOI) to the state's school building authority, there is no guarantee that the project will be accepted for funding assistance. In fact, most such queries are not immediately invited into the project funding pipeline.
However, submitting the SOI is a critical first step for districts considering school construction projects. The process "allows districts to inform the MSBA about deficiencies that may exist in school facilities and how those deficiencies inhibit the delivery of the educational program."
Typically, if a new construction project is accepted into the MSBA funding pipeline, the process can take several years from start to finish. The state offers to pay for a substantial portion of most school projects, and city taxpayers must come up with the remainder. The projects are guided by a local School Building Committee whose members work closely with a professional architectural and project management team.
Also at Monday's meeting, Superintendent Anderson plans to offer a review of his goals. A financial report and facilities update are on the agenda.
The School Committee meets Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. at the Keith Middle School Community Room at 225 Hathaway Rd. All such meetings are open to the public.