METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – Construction on the city’s new $56.4 million elementary school continues to be on track for its fall 2020 opening.
The steel frame of the Poirier Road school was erected this winter and district leaders held a topping-off ceremony, which marks the last beam being placed atop the structure, earlier this spring.
“It’s becoming real,” Superintendent Michael Bergeron said while walking through the construction site Thursday. “Every single time I come by, it’s something different. It’s very exciting. It has been really fantastic.”
Crews will spend the next few weeks performing utility and electrical work on the land, a former athletic field. Construction on a replacement athletic field will begin this summer.
Work kicked off in the summer with tree clearing, debris removal, relocating a sewer line and constructing a large retaining wall around the property.
The major construction is slated to be finished in March or April 2020, several months before students file through the doors for the first day of school in August 2020.
“That would be the milestone we’re looking for,” said Bergeron.
John Lebica, on-site representative for Boston-based Daedalus Projects Inc., lauded the partnership and teamwork between the construction team and city.
Last spring, the Massachusetts School Building Authority approved reimbursing the city $29 million for the $56.4 million project. The City Council approved funding its share of the project a few weeks later.
The tab for the new school was initially expected to be about $67.5 million, but Marlborough enrolled in the MBSA’s Model School program, saving the city slightly more than $10 million.
The Model School program allows municipalities to use the design for a model school already constructed in Massachusetts. Mount Vernon Group Architects, of Wakefield, was selected to use the designs it created for elementary schools in New Bedford and Athol.
The program accelerates the timeline for the project, further reducing construction costs.
More than 30 classrooms housing 610 students will be part of the new building. The additional space will allow fifth-graders to move back to the elementary schools, which Bergeron called transformative r the entire district.
The new facility will feature a dedicated play area for students in kindergarten, first and second grade and another for older students. Increased gym and cafeteria space will also be included. A partition dividing the gym and cafeteria can be removed to create a large cafetorium, the first in the district.
“That’s a nice new addition,” said Bergeron.
City officials reviewed a handful of sites for the new school – including Marlboro Airport, land on Williams, Spring and Elm streets and the Rawchuck property – but they were either not for sale, too expensive or too small.
School leaders submitted a statement of interest with the MSBA a few years ago. In their statement, district officials said classrooms at the city’s elementary schools – specifically Richer – are overcrowded. Jaworek and Kane elementary schools have similar space constraints.
This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.