Why is the cost of this project so much more than when we built Bancroft?

Inflation is a significant contributing factor to the difference in cost between the two schools. Though Bancroft was completed in 2014, it was bid in October 2011 with a construction cost of $308 per square foot. Inflation in the construction industry has averaged about four to five percent a year. About ten years will separate the bids for Bancroft and the likely bids for the new West Elementary. At the time West Elementary goes to bid in 2021, the estimated cost will be $599 per square foot. The budgeted construction cost of Bancroft was $49,550,000. If built at the cost of current construction, Bancroft would cost $95 million to construct today.

Another part of the additional cost is due to the larger size of the building proposed for West. Bancroft was originally constructed to accommodate 640 students in grades K-5, although space has now been allocated for a new districtwide special education program reducing building capacity. Its current enrollment is 567 and its footprint is about 105,000 square feet. West Elementary is being planned for a K-5 enrollment of up to 925 students. Including the preschool wing, the new West Elementary will have twice the square footage of Bancroft.

A third factor is the variety of spaces being proposed to serve West’s students with special needs. West provides the district’s BRIDGE program for students on the autism spectrum. These students are served in essentially self-contained classrooms, with an assistant assigned to each student. West also offers the partial inclusion SAIL program for students with developmental delays in multiple areas of functioning. Finally, West serves the district’s elementary-age students who are medically fragile. All of these student groups receive a variety of related services (such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy), which require pull-out spaces for individual or small-group instruction.

The fourth factor in the cost is the inclusion of the PreK wing (to replace the Shawsheen Preschool), which Bancroft does not have. Shawsheen has about 39,460 gross square feet, but some of this space is not suitable for use by its current students. The PreK wing joined to West Elementary will have about 31,899 gross square feet. The estimated construction cost of the preschool wing is $19.1 million. In general, MSBA does not provide financial support for construction of preschools. However, when the preschool is connected to another building (as this plan proposes) and when there is continuity of programming for students (as this plan specifies), MSBA will apply its reimbursement rate to the building structure itself—but will not pay for furnishings, fixtures, or equipment. From that perspective, this plan to join the preschool to the new West Elementary provides a significant financial benefit to Andover.

The final factor is the proposed flexitorium (see FAQ #21), which has an estimated cost of $6 million.

Some of the expense of a new building will be offset by the reduced annual cost of maintaining and repairing two aging facilities and by consolidating two facilities onto one site. If some of the students with special needs who are currently served in out-of-district programs decide to return to the new West Elementary, the district will also have lower costs for out-of-district placements.

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?