West Elementary & Shawsheen Preschool Building Project
Thank you, Andover voters, for your support at Town Meeting and at the polls for a new West Elementary and Shawsheen Preschool!
Following the voters’ approval of project funding at the 2021 Town Meeting and at the polls, the West Elementary and Shawsheen Preschool Building Committee authorized the extension of contracts for the Owners’ Project Manager (PMA Consultants) and the architect (SMMA) and authorized the entry of a contract with Gilbane Building Company as the construction manager. The Town also entered into a final Project Funding Agreement with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) which sets the terms for reimbursement by MSBA of a portion of approved project costs. The project now is in the detailed design phase, with actual construction set to begin in the summer of 2022.
We will continue to post updates and agendas as the project moves forward.
- 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.
- When will construction activities begin?
Construction activities will begin in April 2022. During the April school vacation, temporary construction fencing will be placed on the western portion of the site where the playing fields currently are located. Also, at this time, a contractor access road will be built on the northern portion of the site where construction vehicles will enter and exit the site from Beacon Street. From this time until the end of the school year, preliminary site preparation work will take place.
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 2022/2023 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 6 Presentations
- 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)|