What process was followed to identify West Elementary for this project?

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 The classrooms are outdated in terms of providing a modern instructional program with varied space and room configurations.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. 

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