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The Committee’s goals are to explore options for building improvements in five interrelated areas:
During more than 40 community and public meetings, including weekly meetings with the architects, 11 options have been considered ranging from $7 million worth of safety and security upgrades to over $200 million for a new school building.
The preliminary feasibility study has not found an option that addresses both the educational delivery and the physical environment of the building for less than $100 million. No previous study had indicated the extent of work required to improve building comfort. Significant energy and comfort improvements are only possible if both the mechanical systems and a portion of the building exterior envelope are replaced, which would cost upward of $40 million.
The Facility Study Committee is now seeking feedback from the community to consider the pros and cons of various approaches and to understand what the community views as a responsible level of investment in the existing building.
 Significant data and presentation material can be found on the Andover High School Facility Study Committee webpage: http://www.aps1.net/1932/Data-and-Presentations
Andover High School is seriously overcrowded. Based on current educational state standards, it is lacking in both number and size of classrooms. According to MGT’s report, the school’s current enrollment means its space ranks as “inadequate” with a utilization rate of 117 percent. The pressure for space at this facility is predicted to increase to 130 percent by 2025-26.
Specifically, an analysis by HMFH Architects (hired to perform a preliminary feasibility study in 2017) showed 80 percent of Andover High’s core classrooms are smaller than the recommended 850 to 950 square feet, 72 percent of science classrooms are smaller than the recommended 1,000 to 1,400 square feet, and special needs space is only 53 percent of the recommended area. Based on MSBA’s current standards for academic areas, the capacity of AHS is approximately 1,400 students. However, the school’s current enrollment already stands at 1,800 with an increase to over 1,900 projected over the next twenty years.
Shared spaces are also too small or insufficient in number. The limited size of the current cafeteria and serving area requires four lunch periods, each with 450 students moving through tight spaces, complicating and disrupting class schedules. The library is roughly half the size needed for the current enrollment. About 25 rooms designed for other uses—including teacher workrooms and teacher dining areas—have been converted into classroom space, and remaining teacher resource areas are crowded and poorly distributed. To accommodate student schedules, 75 percent of faculty members must shuttle among multiple classrooms each day with no appropriate space to prepare lessons, evaluate student work, store materials, or meet with students. Between-class time that could be devoted to conferring with students is instead spent carting materials to the next classroom. Teachers are scattered throughout the building instead of being grouped by department, which impedes professional collaboration. Small classrooms and inflexible furnishings limit instructional options and negate the opportunity for some educational services, including areas for hands-on experimentation and collaboration, for student projects that require extensive space to complete over a period of days or weeks, and for advanced-level classes that enroll small numbers of students. Students are turned away from some popular classes because the small, repurposed instructional areas cannot hold all the students who wish to enroll.
Other concerns: No fire sprinklers exist in 65 percent of the building, including the entire original building, the Dunn Gym and the Collins Center; the fire alarm is not audible in all areas; certain areas of the school are difficult to monitor for security; the site needs improvement for accessibility, traffic flow and avoidance of vehicular and pedestrian conflicts; mechanical systems—particularly those that support climate control—are ineffectual and beyond their usable life; windows are beginning to fail; the Collins Center floods periodically as a result of the high water table near the orchestra pit; water in the science labs is often unusable for experiments because of undesirable color and temperature; and there is an insufficient number of classroom/office electrical outlets, elevators (only one to serve the entire school), and accessible restroom facilities and other features that promote accessibility.
 Educational standards as used by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for the construction of modern school facilities
The climate control systems in Andover High are well maintained and actively managed, even earning Energy Star rating for the efficiency of current systems. However, these current systems rely on old technology and major components—including boilers and unit ventilators —that are reaching the end of useful life and need replacement.
HVAC experts have observed that meaningful replacement of Andover High’s aging climate control technology would best be supported by also upgrading other critical energy components. For example, almost all high school windows are drafty and do not sufficiently block UV light, allowing heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.
But most notably, the current building is constructed of concrete with no insulation in the original exterior walls and with floors that create a “thermal bridge” by extending past the building façade, thereby drawing heat out of the building in the winter and increasing room temperatures in the warmer months. Replacing the extensive unit ventilator system without also addressing the building envelope of the original building would provide only very limited climate improvement.
Additionally, in each classroom, unit ventilators bring outside air into the building to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. When rooms are overcrowded, CO2 increases faster than heating elements can keep up with the airflow, resulting in cold outside air being blown into classrooms throughout the winter. The unit ventilators are also loud and distract from learning.
A facility project that simply replaces unit ventilators in-kind—rather than upgrading the heating technology and improving the building envelope—will bring a continuation of the same climate control problems, and may not even save money in the long run.
In addition to solving these problems, a modern climate system would bring an opportunity for replacing the unit ventilation system with a displacement air system similar to the system installed at Bancroft Elementary. This would increase comfort during shoulder seasons and allow year-round use of the building.
 Unit ventilators are the large boxes typically seen under windows along exterior walls to heat outside air as it enters classrooms during cold weather. The technology they use has been largely unchanged in over 60 years.
A demographic study was conducted in October 2017 by Cropper GIS, an outside company with expertise in school population projection. Information from that report was used to set a target enrollment for Andover High School construction at 1,900 students.
The report can be found on the Andover High School Facility Study Committee project website.  Cropper GIS presented its report for discussion at a Tri-Board (School Committee, Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen) meeting on November 9, 2017, and that replay can be found in the Andover TV archives.
Cropper GIS intends to update its projections as new demographic data, including Andover school enrollment numbers, become available: at this time, however, the target capacity for the high school remains at 1,900 students.
 The Cropper GIS Demographic Report is on the AHS FSC website: http://www.aps1.net/1932/Data-and-Presentations
 The Cropper GIS Tri-Board presentation can be viewed at: http://andover.vod.castus.tv/vod/?video=148ee011-8dc9-4df1-a5da-6c4520593ba0
The high school was originally designed for three grades (10 through 12) and approximately 1,200 students. The main building was constructed in 1966, and the Collins Center was added in 1983.
By 1994-95, enrollment had already grown to 1,270 students in grades 9 through 12. The high school was partially renovated in 1995 to accommodate the addition of grade 9 and an enrollment of up to 1,500 students. That renovation included the addition of a science wing at the rear of the school, a new entrance and art classrooms, a field house, an expanded gym and an expanded cafeteria. The Collins Center and field house are large structures and are used extensively by the community, leaving the space available for school programs less than the total square footage implies.
Based on current space guidelines, the capacity of Andover High is approximately 1,400 students. Meanwhile, current enrollment is just under 1,800 with a projected increase to 1,900 over the next twenty years.
Yes, Andover can ask the state for assistance through the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) program. Acceptance to the MSBA core program is highly competitive, with only 18 percent of submissions accepted in 2017 (15 of 83). However, partnership with the MSBA can result in significant financial assistance for design and construction, in the range of 40 percent of eligible costs.
The first step to potential partnership is the submission of a Statement of Interest (SOI) to the MSBA. Each year, districts are invited to submit SOIs in April, and acceptance or denial is usually announced by December. The SOI outlines the problem(s) related to a specific school building—such as over-capacity enrollment or facility condition—but does not propose a preferred solution. Decisions about facility renovation versus reconstruction are determined through a later “feasibility study” as part of the MSBA process.
An SOI  for West Elementary was submitted to the MSBA in April 2017, outlining significant facility concerns. The school was accepted into the MSBA program in December 2017. In May 2018, Andover Town Meeting approved funding for the West Elementary feasibility study, which is being led by the West Elementary School Building Committee. 
An SOI  for AHS was submitted to the MSBA in the spring of 2018 and we expect to learn in December whether this site is accepted into the program.
 For more information about the MSBA process, visit their website: http://www.massschoolbuildings.org/
 The SOI submitted for West Elementary can be found here: http://andoverma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4916/West-El-SOI-Submission
 The West Elementary School Building Committee website can be found on the Town of Andover website: http://andoverma.gov/747/West-Elementary-School-Building-Committee
 The Statement of Interest for AHS submitted to the MSBA can be found at: https://www.aps1.net/1932/Data-and-Presentations
Although the initial plan was to explore options for Andover High that did not involve MSBA partnership, the AHS Facility Study Committee and the School Committee, with the support of the Board of Selectmen, decided to submit an SOI to the MSBA in April 2018. The year-long AHS feasibility study had revealed that improvements to AHS will be more complex and expensive than anticipated. Given the competitive nature of MSBA acceptance and the lengthy program timelines, along with the potential high cost of the project, seeking MSBA assistance is a responsible step in order to explore all options.
Additionally, the Andover High School Facility Study Committee continues to investigate options and seek community feedback on AHS improvements that could be town-funded and not require MSBA partnership.
The Facility Study Committee has developed several primary paths and is seeking community feedback on these options:
A. Construction using financial resources from the town only. This option allows the town to pursue improvements to Andover High immediately, with the next step being financial approval for design funds by a vote at Town Meeting. This option would require Andover taxpayers to fund the project and would not provide any state reimbursement. However, the project could be done on the timeline and to the specifications determined by the Andover community alone.
The Facility Study Committee has worked with HMFH Architects to develop potential options for town-funded improvements. After considering eleven options, the Committee narrowed their choices to four. Following is a general summary of the four best options (still identified by their original option numbers), with significantly more detail available on the AHS Facility Study Committee website.
B. Construction with MSBA Assistance (financial reimbursement from the state). The district has submitted a Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority requesting the state to partner with Andover to improve the high school. Acceptance to this program is highly competitive, and the timeline for any potential construction is unclear and dependent on the state. We will learn in December 2018 whether Andover High has been accepted into the MSBA program.
If Andover High School is accepted into the MSBA program, the next step is a feasibility study. This study would inform the MSBA decision as to whether a new high school would be built or the current high school would be renovated/expanded.
The MSBA will only partner with a district to produce a 50-year facility solution, and it is possible that both Option 4 and Option 5 above could meet that requirement. However, with construction costs escalating an average of four to five percent each year, MSBA timelines would also increase the overall cost of these projects.
C. No construction. The community could decide that the expense or other downsides of pursuing improvements at Andover High are not worth the investment.
If Andover partners with the MSBA, a decision to build new or renovate existing will be made after an extensive feasibility study is conducted in conjunction with the MSBA. However, it is worth thinking about the pros and cons of each approach, particularly if Andover decides to undertake a high school project without MSBA assistance.
Some factors to consider in making a decision between new construction and an
• New construction is more costly than an addition/renovation.
• An addition plus renovation may be more environmentally friendly if it creates less demolition waste by reusing large parts of a building we already have.
• An addition plus renovation would have less impact on athletics because playing fields would largely be maintained, whereas new construction would likely take the space of existing playing fields.
• A newly constructed building would have a shorter construction timeline than a comprehensive addition plus renovation project.
• New construction would have a limited impact on academics during construction. While any renovation would be phased to minimize disruption, renovations are inherently complicated and disruptive. The phased approach of an addition/renovation project would also drive a longer construction timeline than would a new building.
• Once open, a newly constructed building would be more efficient to operate than an addition/renovation, with fewer break/fix activities and more routine maintenance.
If the community does nothing, it is estimated that $20 million will still need to be spent over the next ten years on the existing building, including maintenance costs, replacement of boilers, replacement of heating and ventilation units as they fail, and upgrades for ADA compliance. The town will also need to update the fire prevention and sprinkler system at an additional cost of $7 million.
Moreover, a “do nothing” approach would fail to address identified deficiencies in the physical condition of the school and site and their corresponding impact on the educational program.
Over the past decades, education has changed significantly. Not only are we providing high-quality programming and services for students with disabilities that require particular kinds of spaces, but the very nature of how we educate students has evolved. The curriculum has expanded to include such subjects as engineering, robotics, programming, and graphics that require space for specialized equipment, as well as space for student projects and for students to work in collaborative teams. Most courses now integrate project-based learning and collaborative group work, requiring that classroom space be capable of being organized in different ways for changing activities. With a more personalized curriculum, schools require media centers and other areas where students can work either privately or in small groups on projects, online courses, and research. In addition, a number of courses are now co-taught, integrating two subject areas such as English and social studies into American Studies and World Studies courses. Spaces to accommodate new teaching methodologies and new curricula are being designed into all new-school construction. A renovation or reconstruction of Andover High School would provide for an enriched and expanded curriculum and learning experience for students.
In December 2018, we will find out if Andover High has been accepted into the MSBA program. If Andover is accepted, the next steps are strictly prescribed by the state, and the next community decision point will be a request at Town Meeting to fund the required feasibility study.
If Andover High is not accepted into the MSBA program, there will need to be a decision to either pursue a building project without MSBA assistance or to resubmit a request to the MSBA for consideration in 2019.
If the community favors improving Andover High using town financial resources only (no MSBA partnership), there will need to be a decision about which option should be pursued
(addition/partial renovation, addition/full renovation, or new school), and design funding would be requested at Town Meeting.
The community is being asked to weigh in on these issues, either at the October community forum, by attending facility committee meetings, or by reaching out to members of the facility committee or School Committee.
The Andover High School Facility Study Committee continues to meet to develop options for both town-funded and MSBA paths. Community feedback is critical at this stage. The next significant decision point will be in December 2018 when the district learns whether or not AHS has been accepted into the MSBA program. This information will have significant impact on both potential costs and timelines for any AHS facility project.
Acceptance to the MSBA program would provide considerable financial assistance (upwards of 40 percent of eligible costs). However, the program prescribes specific steps that generally take longer to complete than do projects that are solely district/town-funded. As such, taking advantage of MSBA’s significant monetary assistance would delay the completion of construction by at least one year beyond the time required for a self-funded project.
Andover is one of the few communities in eastern Massachusetts that has not invested in a new high school or undergone a major renovation of an existing high school in the past 20 years.
For example, fairly new high schools can be found in the nearby communities of North Reading
(opened 2015), Wilmington (2015), Methuen (2014), Dracut (2014), Tewksbury (2012), Bedford
(2008), Lawrence (2007), Reading (2007), Chelmsford (2006), and North Andover (2004). Billerica will be opening a new facility in 2019), while Lowell, Groveland, West Newbury and Merrimac are either currently building or designing new high schools or are undergoing comprehensive addition/renovation projects.
Like many districts that saw baby boomer population spikes, Andover undertook several school building projects in the 1950s and 1960s and has a history of building or renovating multiple schools at the same time. West Elementary, Doherty Middle, and Sanborn Elementary were all built in 1951. Andover High School, Sanborn Elementary, and South Elementary were partially renovated in 1995. High Plain Elementary and Wood Hill Middle were built in 2002. Those schools have aged significantly and/or outgrown their capacity over time.
In 2016, the town hired a national facility assessment and planning organization (MGT of America Consulting) to assess the state of our facilities and help develop a long-term plan to address facility needs. The MGT study  concluded that the school facilities with the greatest needs are West Elementary and Andover High School.
The West Elementary building was constructed in 1951 and requires extensive physical improvements. Andover High was constructed in 1966 and renovated in 1995. It is severely overcrowded and requires additional and larger classrooms, as well as larger special-use areas
(notably cafeteria, special education, and collaborative spaces). The district is proceeding on parallel paths to consider renovation or replacement of both of these schools.
 The full MGT of America Consulting study can be found on the APS district website: http://www.aps1.net/1781/Facility-Forums---MGT-Facility-Plan
Only one facility project can be submitted to the MSBA as “district priority” in any year. To determine which site that would be, during the fall and winter of 2016 the School Committee held several community forums, met with teachers and principals, toured buildings, consulted with architects, walked sites, observed student traffic patterns, calculated enrollment projections, consulted with experts who have gone through similar analyses, reviewed prior space studies, and discussed facility priorities at many School Committee meetings.
Ultimately, the School Committee voted to submit an SOI for West Elementary while simultaneously convening a Facility Study Committee to determine which, if any, town-funded improvements could be made to Andover High without MSBA partnership.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) partnership is highly competitive and can provide considerable financial benefit, upwards of 40 percent of reimbursable costs to Andover. However, the timelines—from acceptance into the program until a renovated/reconstructed building is opened—are lengthy (typically four or more years) because each step follows a detailed, state-prescribed process.
A new-construction high school has never been built in Massachusetts without MSBA partnership, likely because these large facilities are the most expensive building investments a town ever makes. Some communities have chosen to undertake elementary school construction projects or high school renovations without MSBA assistance, relying entirely upon municipal funding. Town-managed projects can move at their own pace, which is generally faster than the MSBA process. With construction costs estimated to escalate at least four to five percent each year, moving quickly can reduce overall construction costs.
Committee is taking specific steps prescribed by the state process. Most notably, funding for a
“feasibility study” was approved by Town Meeting in May 2018, and the study is expected to be complete in early 2020. The feasibility study will recommend a “preferred solution” to address West’s facility needs—either a building renovation or a total replacement—to be considered by the community at the 2020 Town Meeting. This step would also require a debt exclusion vote of the community shortly after Town Meeting.
The Andover High School Facility Study Committee was formed in January 2017 and has been conducting a preliminary feasibility study with the architecture firm HMFH. The Study Committee has developed many options for improvements at Andover High, ranging from $7 million worth of safety and security upgrades to over $200 million for a new school building.  Additionally, the Study Committee recommended to the School Committee that an SOI for AHS be submitted to the MSBA in order to pursue the potential option for state partnership. The SOI was submitted in April 2018. For both of these projects, community feedback is critical. Meetings of both committees are open to the public and notifications are posted to the Town of Andover website. Meetings are also videotaped and can be viewed from the Andover TV website. 
 Details on these options can be found in presentations on the AHS Facility Study Group website: http://www.aps1.net/1932/Data-and-Presentations
 Notification of both West Elementary and AHS building committee meetings are posted to the Andover Town website: http://andoverma.gov/calendar.aspx
 Replays of both West Elementary and AHS
The MSBA process is stringent and lengthy, with each step prescribed by state law.
The West Elementary building project was accepted into the MSBA program in December 2017, which started the “eligibility period” and allowed creation of the West Elementary School Building Committee.
In May 2018, Andover Town Meeting approved funding for the West Elementary feasibility study. The study is expected to be completed in early 2020 and will yield a “preferred solution” to address facility needs through either a building renovation or replacement.
Bidding for design and construction would follow. It takes 16 to 24 months to complete renovation or new construction, depending on the project size and complexity.
The town has a robust maintenance program and the Department of Facilities employs staff in the trades of carpentry, energy management, HVAC, painting, plumbing, masonry, security, electrical and fire systems. The department also manages maintenance and construction projects and uses in-house staff for many small construction projects throughout the schools.
At each school, custodians regularly perform minor repairs and preventive maintenance in addition to routine operations such as cleaning and stocking. Additionally, the town work control center has tradespeople on call around the clock to address repair needs, major equipment services, and acute problems.
Andover buildings are well maintained and run efficiently. We are not in need of facility improvements because of a lack of maintenance. Instead, renovations or additions are being considered because some buildings have passed their expected lifespans and/or exceed the enrollment for which they were designed, particularly as educational requirements and space standards have changed over time.
Yes, the high school will continue to be maintained and improved, particularly with respect to safety and security. As systems need repair, they will be replaced. Nothing will be left in a state of failure. However, major capital projects—such as a request for new boilers—will be postponed until the community has settled on a facility upgrade path.
In general, significant facility projects are funded by the town through a debt exclusion. In this process, voters give the town permission to borrow money outside the limitations of Massachusetts Proposition 2½, and taxes are increased to pay back the loan during the term of repayment (usually 30 years).
The town would ask voters for this approval in two separate forums, first at Town Meeting and then by holding a ballot box vote. Both votes would need to pass in order to approve the debt exclusion.
 A debt exclusion is not the same as an override. Generally, with a debt exclusion, voters allow an increase in taxes only to pay back specific project debt over the duration of a loan. An override allows an increase in taxes that will be ongoing and used for operating costs. Historically, Andover has passed debt exclusions for facility projects. Andover has never passed an override.
The Wood Hill Middle School, High Plain Elementary School and Bancroft Elementary School building projects were all-new construction and all were completed on time and on budget. Each of these three projects was managed by a separate School Building Committee. The 1995 Andover High School renovation project did take longer than anticipated and required some additional funding. Renovations tend to be more complex than new construction because unanticipated challenges are sometimes discovered when existing walls and other structural components are removed.
The scope of potential construction projects has not yet been defined—including the fundamental question of whether each school would be a renovation or a reconstruction; therefore, costs are unknown. However, we can estimate the impact to the average tax bill using various cost levels and other assumptions.
If voters approve a debt exclusion, new debt could be taken on by the town and loans would be paid over many years by an increase in property taxes over the life of the loan. At the same time, existing exempt debt (financing High Plain, Wood Hill and Bancroft school construction, for example) is being paid off, with a notable drop to come in the year 2022. Estimates show that the FY18 average tax bill was about $9,600 and that $270 of that amount was applied to existing exempt debt.
Total exempt debt—existing plus that from any new projects approved by voters—will have a bearing on the town’s repayment schedule and, therefore, on residential taxes in any given year.
The Town has put together preliminary debt scenarios based on various assumptions about construction project costs, interest rates and loan terms. These estimates show that for every
$10,000,000 of debt incurred, we can expect an average tax bill impact of between $38.00 and $47.80 in the first year of loan repayment. The annual cost to taxpayers would gradually decrease after the first year as interest payments on the debt decrease and as existing debt for other town projects expires.
Andover High School is not only a school, but also a community center that hosts arts, athletics and community education events. The high school is used seven days a week from early morning until late in the evening and accommodates many community functions. A facility that can support an array of community activities adds value to all the residents in a community.
In addition, the quality of education in a community has a direct impact on the attractiveness of the community to homebuyers and, as a result, on the property value of homes. Families desiring to send their children to high-performing schools are able to choose among communities. A critical factor in that choice is the physical condition and attractiveness of the schools that children will attend. Because all children in Andover will attend Andover High School (unless they choose a private school), homebuyers and the community as a whole have a strong interest in the conditions at Andover High School. Therefore, maintenance of school facilities is a valuable investment that provides a return to everyone in the community.
Research shows that the physical condition of the learning environment has a strong influence on student performance. Conditions such as temperature control, ventilation, lighting, and sufficiency of space are factors that affect learning. To maintain the high quality of performance Andover has achieved and to sustain the attractiveness of its schools in comparison to surrounding communities, it is essential that Andover’s school facilities provide sufficient space for current educational programming as well as physical conditions that support high-quality learning.
The 2016 MGT facility study also identified Shawsheen and Doherty as high-priority buildings due to their physical conditions.
Shawsheen has long been identified as a structure beyond its useful life and an expensive building to operate. Attempts to move Shawsheen classrooms to Bancroft as part of that building project were only partially successful; K to 3 moved and the preschool remained. The Andover High School Facility Study Committee recommended a pre-school not be included in a high school project primarily due to site constraints. The district continues to explore options for Shawsheen, including co-location with a new West Elementary, separate construction elsewhere, and partnership with outside organizations for preschool space.
In May 2018, Town Meeting approved funding of approximately $80,000 for a facility study of Doherty that can help inform decisions for near- and long-term facility improvements.
Additionally, as part of the West Elementary feasibility study, there may be opportunity to include an evaluation of a middle school on the West Elementary campus. This approach could potentially free up the West Middle building for swing space during a future Doherty renovation or to provide additional capacity to an AHS campus, though these options would not be feasible for many
with a new West Elementary, separate construction elsewhere, and partnership with outside organizations for preschool space.
Additionally, as part of the West Elementary feasibility study, there may be opportunity to include an evaluation of a middle school on the West Elementary campus. This approach could potentially free up the West Middle building for swing space during a future Doherty renovation or to provide additional capacity to an AHS campus, though these options would not be feasible for many years.
At the beginning of the long-range planning process, a survey of parents and a community forum were held to collect input on facility conditions and concerns. The AHS Facility Study Committee has held several community forums and tours of Andover High School. The Committee also collected data from the AHS faculty. The Committee has presented its current findings to the Select Board, the Finance Committee and the School Committee.
Both the West Elementary School Building Committee and the Andover High School Facility Study Committee meet regularly. Notice of these meetings is posted on the town website and the public is encouraged to attend.
The next community forum to collect additional feedback is scheduled for October 2 at 7:00 p.m. in the Collins Center. Tours of the high school facility will be held the same evening, beginning at 6
Ultimately, the Andover community will need to decide the level of financial investment that should be made to improve school facilities.
Both the Andover High School Facility Study Committee and the West Elementary Building Committee have the critical goals of gaining community feedback and adjusting potential options to meet community expectations.
In addition to attending facility committee meetings and community forums, you are encouraged to reach out to members of each facility committee or the School Committee to provide your thoughts. Andover High School Facility Study Committee members may be contacted at: AHSFSC@andoverma.us.
The cost estimates provided by HMFH are based on current construction prices and assume that construction will commence in 2020 if funded by the town, or in 2022 if accepted for partnership with MSBA. A responsible contingency has been added to cover unknowns. Factors impacting the final budget include cost escalation variables, subsurface conditions uncovered by geotechnical and geo-environmental investigations, final development of sustainable goals and strategies, traffic-study-related site costs, and programmatic decisions. The final budget is usually determined at the end of the schematic design phase of the project, which has not yet begun.
The athletic user fee is due at the time of registration. Payment is made by credit card through PayPal as part of the on-line registration process. It is important that the email address entered for on-line registration be the same email address used when payment is made through PayPal. The athletic user fee is a maximum of $450 per student, per academic year,with a maximum of $900 per family. If applying for a waiver of the athletic fee, information on how to do so is included in the on line registration process along with a link to download the form. The waiver form is also available at the Athletic Office. The completed waiver form along with the required supporting documentation must be submitted to the Andover Public Schools Business Office or dropped off at the Athletic Office.
Yes! All meals are free for STUDENTS ages 0-21 in the Town of Andover. This means children who are home schooled or in college can also pick up a meal.
A meal bag contains breakfast, lunch, and snack items for two days (three on the weekends). They contain a variety of sandwiches and hot meals, and milk is also provided when available. Our weekly menu is posted on our Facebook page “Andover School Nutrition” and sent through e-mail every week, so keep an eye out!
Beginning June 1st, 2020, Andover Food Services will consolidate food pick-up locations for families to one site- Andover High School. This will allow Andover School Nutrition staff to maintain a more efficient control of production and quality control over meals as the weather continues to get warmer. Pick up times will remain the same. Pick up will be every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at Andover High School from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. until August 31st. There will be two lines for pick up at AHS running simultaneously. Both lines will be providing the same meals to facilitate faster pick up.
No. We did pre-order during the first week to get an idea of meal counts. Ordering in advance is no longer necessary.
We encourage you to pick up a meal and no, you are not taking services away from someone who needs. Picking up a meal helps our department (see next question). In addition, families have said it helps provide their children a sense of normalcy by having a school meal. Others appreciate the convenience and not having to go to the grocery store as often. We make enough meals for everyone so it will not take away from those in need.
Each meal we provide to a student allows us to receive reimbursement from the government. This reimbursement is currently our main source of income and is used to buy food and pay our staff. All staff are currently being paid, despite school closures. By getting a meal, you help support our department and employees and keep us operating! We also have been applying for grants, which help with equipment costs.
On average we are doing about 7,000 meals per week, counting breakfast and lunch. This number continues to grow!
We will be operating until August 31st. We will provide updates if we will continue to feed during the summer.
As of September 1st, 2020, all students will revert to their previous application status (free, reduced, or paid) that they had during school year 2019-2020.
We ask that you please fill out an updated application at www.lunchapp.com for the school year 2020-2021. Last year’s applications will be valid until October 10th, 2020. After October 10th, they will expire until a new application is filled out.
The operating system on a PC is “Windows”. The operating system on a Mac is “Mac OS X”. The operating system is what you see after you turn on a computer for the first time, but before you install any programs.The OS in iOS stands for Operating System. Thus iOS is the base software that allows all other apps to run on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
Some operating systems include games or utilities. For example Windows comes with Solitaire and iOS devices come with programs to play music and videos.
iOS Apps - http://www.aps1.net/index.aspx?nid=1316
OSX Apps - http://www.aps1.net/index.aspx?nid=1364
Typically, if software is requested and is approved through the software procurement procedures it will then be made available in Self Service. If you do not see a software title available in Self Service, you can request it through Self Service area under Mac App Request.
An acceptable use policy (AUP) is a policy that outlines, in writing, how a school or district expects its community members to behave with technology. Similar to a Terms of Service document, an AUP should define publicly what is deemed acceptable behavior from users of hardware and information systems such as the Internet and any applicable networks. Many schools address both acceptable and unacceptable online behavior in their AUPs – not only prohibiting certain behavior (for example, plagiarism, pirating, visiting non-school related sites, etc.), but also defining positive goals for incorporating technology into the school day. Additionally, AUPs also can help comply with E-rate requirements set forth by the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).
A Web 2.0 site may allow users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where people are limited to the passive viewing of content. Examples of Web 2.0 include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, folksonomies, video sharing sites, hosted services, web applications, and mashups.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yes, Web 2.0 tools (websites) must comply with the FTC’s COPPA rule. COPPA basically says the following: Websites can’t target children, collect information from them, and then market to them without the parent’s permission. Parents sign the agreement giving their permission for students to use the Internet as teachers and administrators deem appropriate and as described in the district’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). In addition, “COPPA allows . . . schools to act as agents for parents in providing consent for the online collection of students’ personal information within the school context” (COPPA FAQs).
TEACHER WEBSITES DISCLAIMER:
Warning. You are leaving the Andover Public Schools website. Andover Public Schools provides links to these sites for informational purposes only, and the presence of the link is not an endorsement of the site. Every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information; however, information changes over time, and external links may be removed. This is beyond our control. Please let us know if there are existing external links which you believe are inappropriate.
Andover Public Schools has been using Aspen since 2008 with success. We are now implementing the Family Portal so parents, teachers, and administrators can work together and communicate more effectively and efficiently.
Online Help: Click to open online help, then click Using the Student and Family Portal. A table of contents, index, and search feature make it easy to find the information you need.
User Guides: Click to open, download, and print a PDF version of Using the Family Portal.
Quick Reference Cards: Select a topic to view a quick reference card.
1. In the top right corner of the page, click Set Preferences.2. Click the Security tab.3. Enter your Primary email.4. Select a Security question.5. Enter you Security answer.6. Enter and Confirm answer.7. Click OK. You will return to your Family Portal page.
Morning half-day Kindergarten is from 8:45 am to 11:15 am.
If you would like to speak to Ms. Bonnie Fields, LPN, call (987) 247-8202.
To register your child for grades K-5 at South School, you must be a resident of the neighborhood district for South Elementary and your child must be 5 years of age before September 1st. To obtain the registration packet, please see the link below. Once you have completed all 22 pages, please bring the "COMPLETED" packet to South School between the hours of 9am - 1:00pm along with you your child's Birth Certificate or Passport, most recent Immunization Records and current Physical Exam (dated within one year), and all required Proof of Residency documentation and Notarized Proof of Residency page. Acceptable proof of residency documents are listed in the Registration Packet (some examples: property tax or utility bill, a purchase and sales agreement for new home buyers, or a lease agreement for renters, utility bills, and/or a current license with your new address on it). If you are a new home buyer, we understand that you might not have utility bills when registering but we expect them to be send in within the next month. Please note, the District age requirement for entering Kindergarten is five years of age before September 1 of that school year. The age requirement for entering first grade is six years of age before September 1 of that school year. For questions, please call the office at (978) 623-8830.
All students in the Andover Public Schools are to attend the school to which they are assigned subject to districting regulations.
The West Elementary facility project is intended to work in collaboration with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in order to address and resolve the identified physical and educational deficiencies of West Elementary School, as well as potentially the Shawsheen Preschool. West Elementary School was built in 1951 and added to in 1968. The Shawsheen facility was constructed in 1923. Both facilities are past their functional life in terms of building systems and instructional programming.
The MSBA is a state government authority that partners with local communities to create affordable, sustainable and energy-efficient public schools across Massachusetts. Created in 2004, the MSBA provides reimbursements to communities based on a predetermined percentage of eligible school construction costs. The MSBA’s revenue stream consists of one penny from the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax. In order to receive partial reimbursement from the MSBA, the district/community must adhere to a multi-year/multi-step process of planning, document submission/review, vendor selection, and negotiations with the MSBA.
In 2012, the district’s Plant and Facilities Department worked with Pare Corporation to pinpoint needed site improvements districtwide. West Elementary was identified as a priority, with major concerns involving inadequate exterior lighting, ponding/poor drainage near the playground, inadequate parking, deteriorating driveways and walkways, and multiple instances of non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Much of this exterior maintenance was deferred, awaiting a decision about the viability of the overcrowded building.
In January 2016, the Town of Andover and Andover Public Schools (APS) contracted with MGT of America Consulting to evaluate the condition of every district building and then develop a master plan to address facility needs through 2026. MGT presented its report in June 2016. Next, the School Committee undertook further research and gathered input from interested stakeholders through surveys, tours, and forums. In December 2016, the School Committee identified West Elementary as its top building improvement priority based on the overcrowding of the building and the numerous facility deficiencies that have a negative impact on student outcomes, some of which are cited below.
The classrooms in the 1968 addition, which represents a large portion of classrooms at West Elementary School, were designed around the open-school concept prevalent in the 1960s and have been walled into separate rooms, thereby creating problems in heating and ventilation as well as for usable space for classroom and support programs. In addition, the two pod areas that were added in 1968 pulled away from the main infrastructure and have since been bolted to the main structure to ensure no further separation. The plumbing is antiquated and insufficient as demonstrated by having only one toilet for 110 boys in the pod for grades 2 and 3. Over sixty percent of the windows are not double-paned and are in need of replacement to maintain heat in the winter. Many of the building systems and site conditions are in poor order and would require significant investment to repair or replace. The classrooms are outdated in terms of providing a modern instructional program with varied space and room configurations. The main administrative office is poorly located for effective supervision and coordination. The sprawling structure of the building with its numerous exterior entryways compromises supervision, security and safety.
Over a period of months, the West Elementary School Building Committee considered several options for renovating and adding to the current West Facility as opposed to building a new school. Multiple factors were discussed.
Construction of a new facility:
The Committee determined that an addition/renovation would fail to adequately address the problems of the current West Elementary facility and would not be a responsible use of funds for the long term. The Committee decided that the construction of a new school, with a preschool wing attached, constitutes the most cost-effective means of providing a physical environment that can support high-quality education services for the identified student population for the next 50 years.
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).
The current building was constructed in 1951. A 1956 addition enabled the school to serve grades K-6. Another expansion in 1968 added a media center, cafeteria, auditorium, gym, two classroom pods, and other spaces. In 1988, West was reconfigured to serve grades K-5, in alignment with the district’s other elementary schools.
The current building has 90,611 square feet. Much of the school was built in an open-space concept without classroom walls, causing visual and auditory distractions. In 2001, the classrooms in the two pods were walled in, creating problems with heating and ventilation. Considerable time and expense have been devoted to unsuccessful attempts—such as movable partition walls—to remedy these design flaws that impede teaching and learning.
In 2013, the Town of Andover commissioned Barry Bluestone, Director of the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Planning at Northeastern University, to perform a demographic and economic analysis of Andover to illuminate future trends. Bluestone found that Andover was growing at a faster rate than other Greater Boston communities, in general, and forecast significantly more growth between 2020 and 2030. He also projected the aging of Andover’s population so that during that decade the number of Andover residents in their 70s would grow by 99.4% and the number in their 80s would grow by 61.0%. Over the coming decades, these individuals likely would downsize from larger single-family homes to other types of residences. He pointed out that “aging Boomers may wish to ‘age in place’ but not in their current homes” and projected that this phenomenon would open up a significant number of homes to new and younger families moving into Andover.
Working from the 2010 census, Cropper GIS conducted an analysis of householders’ ages in each of Andover’s elementary school attendance areas. The study found that, of the five schools, West Elementary School’s attendance area had the highest proportion of householders (27.7%) ages 65 years and older, while also having the lowest proportion of householders (45.1%) between the ages of 35 and 54. These findings mean that West Elementary is likely to see the most significant increase in enrollment as older individuals downsize.
Based on Bluestone’s analysis, coupled with significant home and apartment construction in Andover over the past decade, the school district pursued three demographic forecasts. MGT of America projected elementary K-5 student population reaching 3,025 within the next decade. A second analysis, by Cropper GIS, projected elementary enrollment reaching approximately 2,800. The third analysis, by MSBA, provided a ten-year projection averaging 2,939. The total K-5 capacity of Andover’s elementary schools as assessed in 2016 was 2,718, although that figure has since been reduced due to the conversion of space for programs for English language learners and students with special needs. None of the population analyses considered the projected increase in kindergarten enrollment once tuition for full-day kindergarten is eliminated, which will take place in 2020-21. Given that both the South Elementary and Sanborn Elementary facilities will last for several more decades and are already near or above capacity, West Elementary will need to be of sufficient size to absorb future enrollment increases throughout the district.
MSBA, which tends to be conservative in its enrollment projections, authorized West Elementary to be built for 925 students in order to address enrollment growth over the coming decade, understanding that the district would need to redraw elementary school attendance areas to address current and projected overcrowding at several of the schools. Although economic trends and the coronavirus pandemic have delayed the downsizing by senior citizens and the resulting movement of new families into the community, the rapid growth of apartment complexes and home construction in Andover combined with future downsizing trends will necessitate building a school of sufficient size to address future enrollment needs for a minimum of twenty to thirty years.
With a current enrollment of nearly 600, West Elementary is essentially at capacity. Since West’s building was last expanded in 1968, the following streets and areas have been developed: Andover Country Club Lane, Trevino Circle, Cormier’s Way, Crenshaw Lane, Muirfield Circle, Ivana Drive, Swan Lane, Trumpeters Lane, Dove Lane, Bobby Jones Drive, Westminster Road Way, Endicott Road, Wescott Road, Worthen Place, Haskell Road, Shadow Lane, Scotland Drive, Stafford Lane, Warwick Circle, Stirling Street (upper), Whittemore Terrance, Southridge Circle, Irongate Drive, Sutton Way, Pauline Drive, Noel Road, Powder Mill Square, Michael Way, Bryan Lane, Heritage Lane, Delisio Drive, Ruggerio Way, Meadow View Lane, Newman Hill Road, and perhaps others. Numerous new projects are under construction or in the planning phase in Andover, which will put additional pressures on providing adequate instructional space for new students.
Requirements for learning environments—particularly around special education, English Language Learning (ELL), and remedial education service delivery—have changed in the decades since the facility was constructed or enlarged, requiring significant additional instructional space.
West Elementary is the district’s largest elementary school by enrollment; its utilization rate now stands at 100% (which means every space is in use) and is projected to reach 116% by 2026.
Small-group instruction, ELL programming, and special education services take place in repurposed closets, the cafeteria, stage, hallways and learning spaces that are disconnected from students’ primary learning setting. Some of the repurposed closets have no windows and no means of receiving heat or ventilation.
The MGT Master Facilities Study scored West Elementary “poor” for educational suitability (69 out of 100), citing specific concerns that the current classrooms fail to meet MSBA size guidelines, do not adequately support educational programming, do not provide flexible use of space, and lack sufficient storage.
The current pressure on capacity at West is being felt most keenly at the kindergarten level, as more students (currently 92%) enroll in full-day kindergarten rather than half-day. In 2013-14, West served 42 children in full-day kindergarten, compared with 77 in 2019-20.
In 2019-20, West Elementary School students were served by 120 faculty members, administrators, and support staff. Office spaces and conference rooms are almost non-existent, having been turned into instructional areas. Parking space is insufficient to accommodate staff, visitors, and delivery vehicles.
The overcrowding is detrimental to the educational program. Classrooms are too crowded to support student collaboration, hands-on authentic learning, and the creative instructional approaches that teachers yearn to implement. The school has only one small maker space, though MSBA recommends two. From the arts to the sciences and from technology to physical education, the school lacks available and appropriate spaces to offer the depth and breadth of curriculum and support services that the students deserve—a condition that over time has a negative impact on both student achievement and teacher morale.
If approved, the West Elementary project will provide a facility to accommodate a K-5 population that is approximately 50 percent larger than West’s current student body. The student population at West will include not only the growth in student population within its own current district, but also students redistricted from other elementary schools to relieve overcrowding at those schools and enable them to provide improved instruction. The new West Elementary School will be designed to support the educational needs of students in alignment with up-to-date pedagogy and instructional materials/equipment. It will provide BRIDGE program students, who are on the autism spectrum, with appropriate small-group and therapy spaces, and will continue to serve medically fragile children above the age of five. The building will also provide adequate meeting/office/planning space for the adults who are tasked with delivering high-quality education programs.
Another key component of this building project will simultaneously address the facility and education programming needs of the current Shawsheen special education preschool population. A specially designed wing will be attached to West Elementary to expand the district’s ability to provide an appropriate education and related services to the students now served at Shawsheen Preschool and to increase the number of such students who can be served.
The site (driveways, sidewalks, playing fields, exterior lighting, etc.) will be redesigned for safety, ADA compliance, and to support the instructional program.
Shawsheen has long been identified as a structure beyond its useful life and an expensive building to operate. Attempts to move Shawsheen PK-3 classrooms to Bancroft as part of that building project were only partially successful; grades K-3 moved but the special education preschool program remained at Shawsheen. Major issues with the Shawsheen facility and location are as follows.
Opened in 1923 to grades 1 through 7, the Shawsheen School now houses only the district’s PreK special education programs, particularly for students with severe autism, developmental delays, and other significant disabilities. The school does not share a campus with any other Andover school, contributing to a sense of isolation for its relatively small staff and student population. The aging building, designed for a much different educational era, places significant limitations on service delivery and also presents safety concerns. The facility is situated on a hill and has entrances at multiple levels along the hill. Although outwardly a three-story structure, the building is internally divided into five separate levels with limited accessibility between levels. There is no one place that all five levels intersect, making the use of an elevator unfeasible. The one handicap ramp leading into the facility is not code compliant; it leads to the building’s only chair lift, which itself enables access to only two of the five levels. The restrooms and cafeteria are on different levels; although these areas have been renovated in an effort to address student needs, they remain largely inadequate. Some stairwells are small, particularly those leading to some restrooms, making it difficult for adults to provide hands-on assistance as needed on the stairs. In the nurse’s clinic, all medical treatment must be carried out in a single open area; the bathroom is not handicap accessible and is not large enough for medical assistance to be provided without compromising the student’s privacy. Some facets of best-practice instruction and therapy are limited by the old design of the Shawsheen structure; for example, given the high ceilings, there is not a safe place to mount a ceiling beam for suspending a swing for sensory therapy. Areas of the building have been divided to support programming; for example, what was once the auditorium is now divided into a music room, library, and classrooms with some of these spaces accessible only by stairs. Inordinate amounts of time that would otherwise be devoted to instructional activities must instead be spent assisting students to move among the multiple levels, often with only one child at a time able to use the lone chairlift. The multiple levels of the building also compromise egress in the event of a fire or other emergency. These accessibility issues are in part responsible for out-of-district placements that currently cost Andover taxpayers more than $400,000 per year.
Although the foundation and exterior structure of this 100-year-old building are solid, building systems are highly inefficient and at the end of their useful life. The age of the building systems makes it difficult to maintain a safe and healthy temperature in the school. In the winter, there are areas that remain very cold and during a heat wave the school can become oppressively hot. The building’s high ceilings preclude proper cooling from portable units, and at times the school has been closed due to excessive heat. The inability to control classroom temperatures is a serious issue because it hinders the use of Shawsheen for housing the extended school year services that are mandated for most young children with identified educational disabilities. Finally, despite its reputation as an excellent PreK program, Shawsheen is not eligible to apply for National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation status because of the health and accessibility issues within the building.
At each school, custodians regularly perform minor repairs and preventive maintenance. Additionally, the town work control center has tradespeople on call around the clock to address repair needs, major equipment services, and acute problems.
Andover buildings are well maintained and run efficiently. We are not in need of new facilities because of a lack of maintenance. Rather, some buildings have passed their expected lifespans and/or exceed the enrollment for which they were designed and/or do not meet today’s educational requirements.
Yes, West Elementary will continue to be maintained, particularly with respect to safety and security. As systems need repair, they will be addressed. Any critical items that fail (such as a boiler) will be replaced. However, major capital improvements that are non-critical (such as new windows) will not be undertaken.
Shawsheen accepts new students throughout the school year on a rolling basis; the enrollment grows as children turn three years old. The school often ends the year with more than 100 students. Shawsheen’s enrollment in April 2020 was approximately 100 students, including ±35 typical peers. The new preschool wing will be able to accommodate a combined total of 130 students (those with special needs plus typical peers), a capacity that is based on projected population growth over time.
West El’s enrollment in 2019-20 was nearly 600 students. The capacity of the new elementary school will be 925 K-5 students. MSBA, which tends to be conservative in its enrollment projections, has authorized West Elementary to be built for 925 students in order to address their projection of enrollment growth over the coming decade, as outlined in question # 7. Additionally, West houses the districts most intensive special education programs that often require varied configurations and additional space to serve the educational needs of children enrolled in these programs. Finally, this allows for the district to continue working toward the goal of smaller elementary class sizes, a desire of both Andover educators and parents. It is critical given projections that the school is constructed to address growth for the next 50 years and to ensure that the significant growth anticipated in the current decade does not result in the school opening at capacity, thereby leaving the community in a similar situation as exists today.
Including the wing for the preschool population, the capacity of the entire proposed facility will be 1,055 PreK-5 students.
Yes. A redistricting plan will be developed as the West Elementary project nears completion. As part of its enrollment projections, MSBA understands that the district would need to redraw elementary school attendance areas to address current and projected overcrowding at several of the district’s other elementary schools. Several APS elementary schools are currently at capacity, requiring the conversion of non-instructional spaces to instructional purposes to support student needs. Students will be redistricted to the new West Elementary in order to relieve the overcrowding at the other four elementary schools. The redistricting will also enable us to eliminate Sanborn Elementary School’s modular classrooms, which are well beyond the end of their useful life.
APS has an additional 83 students (ages 3-22) in out-of-district special education placements. If West is constructed in a way that gives it adequate space, makes it physically accessible, and enables it to offer programming that accommodates the needs of these current out-of-district students, we anticipate that a number of them in PreK-5 will choose to return to Andover.
A new school is projected to have a useful life of 50 years. Sanborn Elementary and South Elementary were partially renovated in 1995 and are in substantially good condition. High Plain Elementary was constructed in 2003 and Bancroft in 2014. If approved, the new West Elementary will be the last elementary school to be built in Andover for the foreseeable future. Therefore, it is critical that this proposed facility address the enrollment needs that will emerge over the coming decades.
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 a 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 maker spaces 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 re-arrange during the day to fit their needs for collaborative work. This Neighborhood Commons approach will ensure that students are known well by a number of 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 have 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. Finally, the proposed West Elementary will feature a staffed Family Resource Center to help connect families with resources in the school and community.
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 PreK program and the West K-5 facility, the transition of preschool BRIDGE students to West 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 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.
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; and a nurse’s clinic with accessible bathroom. On two levels as opposed to the current Shawsheen’s five levels, the proposed facility 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 parents’ waiting room and therapy space to serve the 40-50 preschool students who receive only speech and language therapy and only by appointment.
Shawsheen Preschool, built in 1923, 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.
Several designs have been considered. The preferred solution will be submitted to the MSBA in August 2020. This design has three stories, with approximately 204,903 square feet. The building will be centrally located on the site behind the current building. The site includes 300 parking spaces and three age-appropriate play areas plus field areas in the front of the building where the current structure stands. The wetlands area behind the school will serve as an environmental education site for students. The co-joined preschool wing will have two stories.
The current school site encompasses 11.8 acres of developed and wooded land. The new school will be located within the same property as the existing facility; however, the footprint of the new school will be larger. To enable construction to take place while school is in session, the new facility will largely be set behind the position of the current school.
Participation in the MSBA grant program for school building construction requires a thorough examination of potential site options throughout the town. The site that was chosen was identified as part of the Feasibility Study phase of the project.
Two items in our proposal have been the subject of multiple conversations and negotiations: the flexitorium and the mechanical penthouse.
The current West Elementary School has a traditional-style auditorium with a stage and rows of fixed seats on a sloped floor. MSBA does not approve/fund auditoriums for elementary schools and instead recommended that West have a standard elementary cafetorium, which allows a cafeteria to adjoin the physical education space to be combined into one large space when needed. West’s stakeholders disagree with this approach; they believe that a cafetorium concept provides only limited access to the PE/assembly space for instructional needs since substantial time is taken up each day with serving lunch as well as the set-up, cleaning, and take-down of furniture. In addition, the cafetorium’s movable wall allows noise to penetrate from the cafeteria, which greatly interferes with students’ ability to hear their PE teacher’s directions or to hear presenters during an assembly. Because the current auditorium has been deeply integrated into the instructional program at West, the administration, staff and parents at West proposed a 6,000 square foot flexitorium instead of a cafetorium. The flexitorium is a large room with fixed walls where lunch would not interfere with instructional activities. The flexitorium could be used for many flexible purposes throughout the instructional day/year, such as performing arts classes, multi-class demonstrations by guest presenters, exhibits of science projects and visual art displays, grade level projects and activities, and capstone presentations. MSBA has indicated that it will not reimburse for any portion of a flexitorium. The projected cost of the flexitorium is $6 million, which would be funded fully by Andover taxpayers. Further discussions are needed with West faculty, district administration, town administration, and residents.
The proposed plan for a new West Elementary included a mechanical penthouse, in which the school’s mechanical equipment is enclosed in a room on top of the school. MSBA had previously approved this architectural best practice at Woodhill/High Plain and at Bancroft. The district/town proposed paying for this enclosure because it offers enhanced efficiency, longevity, and ease of maintenance. The MSBA now requires that the equipment at West must be left on the roof exposed to the elements. If it is enclosed, the district/town must not only pay for the enclosure but must also subtract 8400 square feet from the allowable space for the school. The district/town have requested reconsideration by the MSBA. To ensure that the project continues to move forward without delay, the Building Committee has removed the mechanical penthouse from the plan unless/until the MSBA changes this requirement.
As proposed, the existing West facility will be demolished in two stages. In stage one, prior to construction, the existing 1969 classroom wing will be demolished to allow space for the new building’s footprint. As a result, ten temporary modular classrooms will be placed elsewhere on the site during the construction process. In stage two, once construction is finished, the modular classrooms will be removed and the remainder of the existing building will be demolished, making way for the rest of the site work, which will include sports fields, play structures, the driveway, parking area, and landscaping.
Ownership and management of the aging Shawsheen building and the site would revert to the Town of Andover. The school’s long history has contributed to the building’s being viewed as a beloved town building and landmark. An architect for historic properties concluded that the building is sound and could be repurposed. Possible suggested uses include senior housing, offices, small condos, town document storage or other community purposes.
The new facility will be built behind the existing building. Therefore, the construction process may limit the use of the fields and playgrounds that are currently in that same location. However, construction should not be disruptive to the operation of the school, with the exception of the ten classes that will need to temporarily relocate to modulars.
It is likely that the construction process will be of great interest to the students, and some concepts will be incorporated into the curriculum where appropriate. One or two members of the engineering/design team may be invited to explain the project to students in grades 4 and 5 and to answer their questions. Watching the new school rise from the earth may spark some students’ interest in exploring engineering careers. Other students may find fertile ground for authentic learning projects or topics for capstone projects.
The new building will be erected largely independent of either West or Shawsheen, thereby minimizing the impact on staff during construction, with the exception of the ten classrooms that need to temporarily relocate to modulars. Staff from the current West and Shawsheen schools will shift to the new/renovated building in their current capacities. More personnel will be added to serve West’s student population as the enrollment rises.
(Projected dates are in italics)
Andover Town Meeting approved funding for West Elementary
Feasibility Study to investigate multiple facility options for West
Ultimately, the Andover community will need to decide the level of financial investment that should be made to improve school facilities. The West Elementary School Building Committee has a goal of gaining community feedback and adjusting potential options to meet community expectations. Cost estimates are based on current construction prices and assume that construction will begin in 2022. The project budget will be established upon completion of the Schematic Design phase of the project. Current projections are in the range of ± $155.5 million, which includes architectural and engineering design fees, construction, and furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
The project will be jointly funded by the MSBA and the Town of Andover. The Town’s base reimbursement rate for this project has been estimated by the MSBA to be in the range of 40 to 42 percent. The higher figure includes an incentive for a plan that incorporates energy efficiency and preventive maintenance. The final rate will be determined later in the process. However, because MSBA utilizes a set cost per square foot and only reimburses for spaces it has approved, the actual reimbursement rate is likely to be in the range of 25 to 30 percent.
With Bancroft, for example, the final construction cost was $49.5M; MSBA accepted $36M as eligible project costs and then reimbursed $15.8M. Thus, although we were approved for a reimbursement rate of 43.9 percent for Bancroft, the actual reimbursement rate was 31.9 percent.
MSBA makes several adjustments that affect the bottom-line reimbursement rate. For example, the estimated cost to build West Elementary is $599 per square foot, but MSBA will reimburse us at a rate of only about $350 per square foot. The town will also be required to fund any design elements that MSBA deems ineligible for reimbursement.
In general, significant facility projects are funded by the town through a debt exclusion. In this process, voters give the town permission to borrow money outside the limitations of Massachusetts Proposition 2½, and taxes are increased to pay back the loan during the term of repayment (usually 30 years). The town would ask voters for this approval in two separate forums, first at Town Meeting and then by holding a ballot box vote. Both votes would need to pass in order to approve the debt exclusion.
A debt exclusion is a funding mechanism in which voters allow an increase in taxes only to pay back specific project debt over the duration of a loan. A debt exclusion is not the same as an override. An override allows an increase in taxes that will be ongoing and used for operating costs. Historically, Andover has passed debt exclusions for facility projects. Andover has never passed an override.
The current estimated cost of the project is $155.5 million. However, over the coming months and through the Schematic Design process, adjustments will be made. The final projection will be refined before going to Town Meeting.
While the specific project cost is still unknown, we can estimate the impact to the average tax bill using various cost levels and other assumptions. If voters approve a debt exclusion, new debt could be taken on by the town and loans would be paid over many years by an increase in property taxes over the life of the loan. At the same time, existing exempt debt (financing High Plain, Wood Hill and Bancroft school construction, for example) is being paid off, with a notable drop to come in the year 2022. Estimates show that the FY18 average tax bill was about $9,600 , of which $270 was applied to existing exempt debt.
Total exempt debt—existing plus that from any new projects approved by voters—will have a bearing on the town’s repayment schedule and, therefore, on residential taxes in any given year.
The Town has put together preliminary debt scenarios based on various assumptions about construction project costs, interest rates and loan terms. These estimates show that for every $10,000,000 of debt incurred, we can expect an average tax bill impact of between $39.00 and $47.80 in the first year of loan repayment. The annual cost to taxpayers would gradually decrease after the first year as interest payments on the debt decrease and as existing debt for other town projects expires.
MSBA would no longer support the project. The building project would be halted.
MSBA will would no longer support the project. The building project would stop.
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.
The most recent construction project—the all-new Bancroft Elementary School—was completed on schedule and under budget. The budget for Bancroft was $49,550,000. The final cost of the project was $49,009,860. Wood Hill Middle School and High Plain Elementary School were all-new construction; both were completed on time and on budget. Each of these projects was managed by a separate School Building Committee; however, for all three schools the architect was SMMA, who is also the architect for the proposed West Elementary school.
The quality of education in a community has a direct impact on the attractiveness of the community to homebuyers and, as a result, on the property value of homes. Maintenance of school facilities is a valuable investment that provides a return to everyone in the community. To maintain the high quality of performance that Andover has achieved and to sustain the attractiveness of its buildings in comparison to surrounding communities, it is essential that Andover’s school facilities provide sufficient space for current educational programming as well as physical conditions that support high-quality learning.
Yes, the Andover High School Facility Study Committee was formed in January 2017 and conducted a preliminary feasibility study with the architecture firm HMFH. At the recommendation of the Study Committee, a Statement of Interest was submitted to the MSBA in April 2018; it was turned down in December 2018. The SOI was revised to address some of the concerns of the MSBA and resubmitted in April 2019; it was turned down in December 2019. It was revised once more to address other issues raised by the MSBA and was submitted in April 2020. A response from the MSBA is anticipated by early 2021. At that time, a decision will be made as to next steps with regard to the high school.
Chairperson, Professor, Massachusetts School of Law
Member, Town Resident, Independent Design Consultant
Up-to-date information is posted on the West Elementary School Building Committee website.
This site also has an abundance of archived information, such as the minutes of past School Building Committee meetings and reports from the various consultants.
Meetings of the School Building Committee are livestreamed and archived on Andover TV and may be watched on Comcast 99 and Verizon 43.
Parents and guardians of current Shawsheen and West Elementary students will receive project updates on the district’s website and via email from the District.
You can get involved by attending a meeting of the West Elementary School Building Committee (SBC). Meetings are open to the public and notifications are posted to the Town of Andover and Andover Public Schools websites.
Next Steps: It is still too early to respond to some questions, such as those pertaining to the possible construction process. However, to ensure that we don’t lose track of your concerns, we will gradually add those questions to the list below and will answer them at the appropriate time as the hoped-for building process unfolds. You are invited to submit your questions to: Paula Colby-Clements.
Class times for calendar year 2019-2020
Please leave a brief message on the Wood Hill Middle School absentee line at (978) 247-8802.
Non-valuable items, such as clothing and lunch boxes, can be found in the lost and found in the cafeteria. Cell phones, cameras, and iPods are usually dropped off in the Main Office if found. In addition, your student could check with a custodian to see if anything was found.