How will a new West Elementary facility improve the program that is offered to the K-5 students at West?

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.

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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?