Why does West El need a new or renovated building?

OVERCROWDING: West Elementary School is grappling with severe overcrowding. Inappropriate spaces such as repurposed closets and offices, the cafeteria, stage, and hallways have been converted to provide small-group instruction, ELL programming, and special education services. In 2016-17, some of West’s kindergarten students had to be relocated to other district schools because of lack of space. However, relocating students is not a viable long-term solution, because Andover’s elementary schools lack the combined capacity to serve the projected growth in overall elementary enrollment. The district’s current K-5 capacity is 2,718; MSBA projects enrollment will reach 3,011 by the year 2026 and MGT projects it will reach 3,025.

EDUCATIONAL NEEDS: West Elementary lacks adequate space that is appropriately configured within the building and that is outfitted to meet the educational needs of its student population (e.g., one kindergarten classroom had to be placed in the grade 5 wing; that classroom lacks a bathroom). Current classrooms do not meet MSBA size guidelines, do not allow flexible use of space, and lack storage capacity. There is a lack of adequate space and appropriate facilities to address the needs of English language learners and students with special needs, including building accessibility.

HEALTH AND SAFETY: West Elementary is an outdated and aging facility that has demonstrated the potential to have a negative impact on the health and safety of students and staff. Excessive lead in a section of water pipes and in a dozen faucets and drinking fountains was remediated in 2017. Following a 2017 report from EBI Consulting, steps were taken to mitigate issues related to dust, moisture and mold; the air quality is tested and monitored regularly. The building lacks a fire suppression system. The administrative offices are in the center of the building, making it difficult to control and monitor access to the building.

AGING STRUCTURE AND MECHANICAL SYSTEMS: The condition of the West Elementary facility is in serious decline. The aging structure and mechanical systems (plumbing fixtures, temperature controls, electrical outlets) result in higher maintenance and operating costs, as well as increased energy consumption. Two pods were added in 1968 to house the classrooms for grades 3-6. After decades of use, and now serving grades 2-5, the pods pulled away from the main structure and had to be bolted back in place in 2017. Part of the basement is prone to minor flooding, and fending off mold is an ongoing battle.

SITE AND GROUNDS: Echoing the Pare Corporation’s 2012 report, the MGT report in 2016 rated the West Elementary site and grounds as “poor” (scoring 69 out of 100).

Show All Answers

1. What is the purpose of the West Elementary project?
2. What is the MSBA?
3. What process was followed to identify West Elementary for this project?
4. What factors were considered in deciding whether to seek an addition/renovation or new construction?
5. Why does West El need a new or renovated building?
6. What is the history of the current West Elementary facility?
7. Is an enrollment of 925 the right projection for West Elementary?
8. What is the extent of the overcrowding at the current facility?
9. What is the scope of the proposed project?
10. Why is the Shawsheen preschool being considered as part of this project?
11. How are Andover school buildings maintained?
12. Will the current West Elementary continue to be maintained during construction of the new West Elementary/Pre-K facility?
13. What is Shawsheen’s current enrollment and what is the capacity of the proposed preschool wing?
14. What is West’s current enrollment and what is the capacity of the proposed elementary school?
15. Will this project involve any redistricting of elementary student attendance areas?
16. What is the physical status of Andover’s other elementary schools?
17. How will a new West Elementary facility improve the program that is offered to the K-5 students at West?
18. How will a new special education preschool wing improve the program and services that are offered to the PreK students?
19. If approved, what will the new West Elementary look like?
20. Where will the new West Elementary be located?
21. Have any issues been sticking points in our negotiations with MSBA?
22. What will happen to the existing West El facility?
23. What will happen to the existing Shawsheen facility if its students are moved to the West Elementary site?
24. How will the construction process affect students’ learning environment?
25. What will be the impact on the staff of the current West and Shawsheen facilities?
26. What is the timeline for the project?
27. How much will this project cost?
28. How will this project be funded?
29. How does the town pay for facility construction projects?
30. What is a debt exclusion?
31. What is the potential impact of this school project on my real estate taxes?
32. What happens if Town Meeting does not approve the funds necessary for Andover’s portion of the costs?
33. What happens if the town voters do not pass the requested debt exclusion?
34. Why is the cost of this project so much more than when we built Bancroft?
35. What is Andover’s track record for past school construction being on or under budget?
36. I have no children who attend Andover Public Schools. How will this project benefit me and the community?
37. Doesn’t Andover also need a new high school?
38. Who are the project contractors?
39. Who serves on the West Elementary School Building Committee?
40. How can I stay informed?
41. How can I become involved?