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HEALTH AND SAFETY: West Elementary is an outdated and aging facility that has demonstrated the potential to have a negative impact on the health and safety of students and staff.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).