Have any issues been sticking points in our negotiations with MSBA?

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.

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?