What is the extent of the overcrowding at the current facility?

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.

Show All Answers

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