West Elementary & Shawsheen Preschool Building Project
Special Town Meeting
Special Town Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 7 p.m. at the Collins Center at Andover High School. For a printable version of the Fact Sheet for Special Town Meeting, click here Version OptionsWest Elementary & Shawsheen Preschool Building ProjectHeadline Special Town Meeting Special Town Meeting Information Sessions or view the articles on the Town Meeting Warrant here.
|Stay up-to-date on the West El & Shawsheen School Building Project|
|*Please note that if you are a current West El & Shawsheen family or staff, we will automatically send updates, no need to sign up!|
|Special Town Meeting will be held on Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 7 p.m. at the Collins Center at Andover High School|
For a printable version of the Fact Sheet for Special Town Meeting, click here.
|Still have questions? Review our West Elementary and Shawsheen - Special Town Meeting FAQs at this link.|
|What is the purpose of the Special Town Meeting?
To vote on whether to authorize additional funds to allow completion of construction of the new West Elementary and Shawsheen Preschool. A two-thirds vote is required for passage.
|What was the original authorization?
In June of 2021, at Annual Town Meeting and at the ballot box, funds were authorized for the design and construction of the new school. The total project budget was set at $151,661,968, which included a maximum grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) of $38,442,820.
|Why are additional funds necessary?
Factors affecting the overall economy – supply chain disruptions, labor shortages, inflation, the war in Ukraine – have driven construction costs up by about 12.3% over budget.
|How much additional funds are being requested?
The total deficit is approximately $16.4 million. This will be funded by 1) the reauthorization of West Elementary feasibility funds (approx. $460K); 2) the use of free cash (approx. $1.4 million); and 3) exempt debt borrowing (approx. $14.5 million).
|What will the tax impact be if the request is approved?
An exempt debt borrowing of $14.5 million would result in an annual tax increase of about $63 for the average value single-family home.
|What is the status of construction?
Construction began in the spring of 2022. The foundation is being poured. Funds are available to continue construction through December of 2022 but not much beyond that unless additional funds are authorized.
|Can the scope of construction be scaled back rather than seeking an additional appropriation?
Actions already have been taken at numerous junctures of project development to reduce costs while minimizing the impact on education. Any further reductions would significantly impact education and/or the basic elements of the project (e.g., turf field greenhouse, gym and athletic equipment).
|Are these cost increases unique to the West El/Shawsheen project?
No. Similar increases are being seen on school construction projects throughout the state, including in Lowell, Worcester, Brookline, Concord, Westwood, Groton, and Somerset.
|What happens if the appropriation request is not approved?
The options are limited, but likely would include a pause to construction, a need to significantly pare the scope and educational capacity of the new school, delay in the opening of the new schools and continued use of two outdated, expensive-to-maintain and energy-inefficient schools, and increased construction costs when construction is resumed.
After many years of planning, we are happy to report that construction of the new West Elementary and Shawsheen Preschool began in the summer of 2022.
Fencing now separates the construction site for the new schools from the current school. There are new playgrounds and play areas, a new parking area, and new site circulation patterns. As shown on the map to the right, families dropping off or picking up their students will continue to enter school grounds from Beacon St., but now will exit onto High Plain Rd. Bus drop-off and pick-up will be unchanged.
Construction of the new schools is expected to take about two years, after which the current school will be demolished and playing fields and parking areas installed in its place. West El students and staff will be welcomed into their new school in August of 2024 for the start of the school year. Shawsheen students and staff will be welcomed to their new school the following August.
For those who would like to learn more about the project, please see the information below. The FAQs and Presentations sections contain lots of useful information. If you still have questions, please contact Joel Blumstein, the Building Committee Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What will the new West El/Shawsheen Preschool look like and where will it be located?
The new West Elementary and Shawsheen Pre-K School will support grades PreK-5 with an enrollment of 130 PreK Students and 925 K-5 students. The building will be located to the west and behind the current West El and will have a total of 191,028 gross square feet. The site measures 33.99 acres and is made up of 5 contiguous lots, some of which are heavily wooded with numerous wetlands. The site development includes approximately 266 dedicated parking spaces, play structures, open field play and paved play areas and two ball fields. Dedicated bus lanes and parent drop off/pick up are designed to alleviate the current traffic congestion and safety concerns. The building is being designed as an all-electric building, to achieve Net Zero Ready when open.
The plan configuration for the new facility is made up of three classroom wings and a gymnasium wing organized around a central core that contains shared program spaces serving the school. The building features a mix of single story high-bay spaces for the Music and PE curriculums, two story construction incorporating the main entry and Media Center as well as the Shawsheen Pre-K wing, and three-story construction that incorporates all the K-4 grade level classroom spaces in two three-story wings with the 5th grade classrooms oriented around a roof garden with greenhouse on the third floor of the central core.
The main West El entry flows into a lobby area that opens to the Cafetorium, and is flanked by the main administration area, offering a passive view of students and visitors as they pass through the security vestibule upon entry. The Gymnasium and associated spaces are located north of the Cafetorium. Music classrooms are located directly behind the Cafetorium Platform to allow them to function in a green room capacity, and art spaces are located on the first floor as part of one of the two three-story academic wings. The media center is positioned on the second floor, just above the main entrance and administration area.
The two-story Shawsheen Pre-K wing is connected to the K-5 program spaces through a small and transparent hallway, providing desired autonomy for the program which is currently located in a different building in a different area of Town. The Pre-K wing has its own main entrance and admin area, which will simplify the circulation within the site and provide the Pre-K program with its own sense of identity.
- How will the educational environment be improved at the new West El?
Over the past decades, the delivery of K-5 education has changed significantly. Spaces to accommodate new instructional methodologies are being incorporated into the design of the new school. Larger classrooms that align with MSBA’s recommended size will enable teachers to provide more differentiated learning activities and to group students flexibly to promote their engagement. The larger classrooms will also accommodate the space-intensive FOSS science curriculum and the classroom libraries that are essential to the district’s integrated approach to literacy and social studies.
The new school will include physical accessibility of all spaces and equipment, complementing the teachers’ use of universal design for learning strategies that provide access to the curriculum for all students. Other features will include spaces for teacher collaboration, classroom furnishings that allow for flexible use—particularly for project-based learning and team teaching, venues to display student work, two makerspaces to promote authentic learning, and school-wide integration of technology.
To support the development of smaller learning communities, each grade’s classrooms (K-5) will cluster around its own Neighborhood Commons. Each commons will be furnished with comfortable seating and tables that students can rearrange during the day to fit their needs for collaborative work. This Neighborhood Commons approach will ensure that students are known well by several peers and adults who work closely with them, thereby supporting social-emotional growth. The Commons will also promote students’ development of independence and self-directed learning. This design element is similar to the one implemented at Bancroft Elementary School.
The BRIDGE program for students on the autism spectrum will have large classrooms, each with a bathroom and adjacent breakout area. A separate sensory room will be provided. All classrooms will give special attention to lighting, color, auditory conditions, visual distractions, and safety factors. Spaces dedicated to specific purposes will include an expanded medical suite; a multipurpose room and a technology-supported fitness room, both equipped for PE; a literacy suite for reading intervention; and rooms for speech, occupational, physical, and behavior therapy. There will also be a number of small instruction areas, plus offices for psychologists, social workers, coaches, and others whose services require confidentiality.
The enlarged and appropriately outfitted facility will reduce the inordinate amount of time that administrators must now devote each day to juggling the schedule and room assignments for itinerant support staff and special activities. As proposed, the new school will also have enhanced security features such as electronic door monitoring and door locks.
By physically co-locating the Shawsheen Pre-K program and the West K-5 facility, the transition of preschool BRIDGE students to West El will be smoother and more effective. Staff from both programs, especially teachers and therapists, will have opportunities to confer with each other and observe each other’s classrooms to ensure that each student entering West El is provided with the necessary supports from day one. The provision of instruction and related services for these children with extensive needs can become seamless from preschool to elementary school. In addition, the delivery of services by itinerant staff will be made more efficient by the programs’ physical proximity.
- How will the educational environment be improved at the new Shawsheen preschool?
The proposed special education preschool wing will include spaces and features specifically designed to address the special needs of this preschool population. The spaces/features include a sensory-friendly adaptive PE room, a sensory therapy room, an occupational therapy room, and a physical therapy room—all with equipment that is size-appropriate for preschoolers. It also will include a nurse’s clinic with an accessible bathroom. On two levels as opposed to the current Shawsheen, which was built in 1923 and has five levels, the new Shawsheen will facilitate faster and safer movement of students among the special service areas.
The preschool will have its own entrance off the parking lot. The preschool wing will also include a waiting room for families and therapy space to serve the 40-50 preschool students who receive only speech and language therapy by appointment only.
The current Shawsheen Preschool has a substantial number of students in the PreK BRIDGE program who move into West’s BRIDGE program and other special education programs at kindergarten age. Connecting the PreK program to the West Elementary facility will provide a consistent and supportive environment over a period of several years and limit disruption for this particular group of students when they transition to the elementary program. It will also enable efficiency in special education service delivery among staff who can serve students PreK to grade 5.
- What is the schedule for construction activities?
Site preparation work began in April of 2022 during the spring school vacation. This work will continue until the end of this school year and will include:
- Perimeter fence and scrim installation;
- Development of the construction entrance drive at Beacon Street – will include curbing re-work, excavation, tree root removal, grading, asphalt and sidewalk transition;
- Pruning, clearing and grubbing within the construction site;
- Creation of a site access road within the construction fenced area;
- Removal of existing structures within the construction area – play structures, backstops, etc.
Immediately following the end of the school year in June 2022, full construction activities will begin.
- How will traffic circulation change during construction?
At the beginning of the 2022-23 school year in August 2022, family drop-off and pick-up will take place at a single-entry point at the southwest corner of the current West El. Families will continue to enter the site from the same location on Beacon Street as they do now but will exit the site onto High Plain Road. Bus drop-off and pick-up will continue in its current fashion at the semi-circle off Beacon Street. New parking areas will be established during the construction period but there will be no loss of total parking spaces.
|By the Numbers|
|Enrollment||1,055 students (includes Pre-K)|
|Building Size||191,028 SF|
|MSBA Max Reimbursement Rate||45.85%|
|Effective Reimbursement Rate||25.35%|
|Total Project Budget||$151,661,968|
|Anticipated MSBA Grant||$38,442,820|
|Anticipated District Share||$113,219,148|
Module 7 Presentations
- Designer update presentation (SMMA, PMA & Gilbane) - November 16, 2022
- Town of Andover Quad Board Meeting - October 19, 2022
- Designer update presentation (SMMA, PMA & Gilbane) - September 21, 2022
- Designer update presentation (SMMA, PMA & Gilbane) - August 17, 2022
Module 6 Presentations
- Designer update presentation (SMMA, PMA & Gilbane) - July 20, 2022
- Designer update presentation (SMMA, PMA & Gilbane) - June 22, 2022
- Designer update presentation (SMMA, PMA & Gilbane) - May 25, 2022
- Designer update presentation (SMMA, PMA & Gilbane) - April 6, 2022
- Designer update presentation (SMMA, PMA & Gilbane) - March 16, 2022
- Designer update presentation (SMMA, PMA & Gilbane) - February 16, 2022
- Designer update presentation (SMMA, PMA & Gilbane) - January 19, 2022
- Designer update presentation (SMMA) - December 15, 2021
- Neighborhood Meeting presentation (SMMA) - November 30, 2021
- Designer update presentation (SMMA) - November 17, 2021
- Designer update presentation (SMMA) - October 19, 2021
Module 5 Presentations
West Elementary School video - May 2021
- Project Funding Agreement with MSBA - August 4, 2021
- Total Project Budget - August 4, 2021
- Presentation at 2021 Annual Town Meeting - June 5, 2021
Archived previous presentations (Module 1 - Module 4)
Meetings are live-streamed on Andover TV and may be watched on Comcast 99 and Verizon 43.
To view a previous West El & Shawsheen PreK School Building Committee meeting, click here Version OptionsWest Elementary & Shawsheen Preschool Building ProjectHeadline for video archives. For previous agendas and minutes, click here.
|Dr. Magda Parvey Superintendent||Janet Nicosia|
Director of Facilities
Assistant Superintendent of Finance & Administration
|Construction Manager: Gilbane Building Company||Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA)|