The Massachusetts School Building Authority has given Gloucester a green light to go ahead with a feasibility study for a West Parish School building project.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk said the authority voted Wednesday to collaborate with the city on the study. The MSBA’s vote marks the latest step toward a renovation or reconstruction of the crowded and aging elementary school. City Council approved a $500,000 loan authorization for the study in May.
“We are delighted with the MSBA vote to collaborate in this stage of the MSBA process for building a new elementary school in West Gloucester,” Kirk said in a prepared statement.
The feasibility study doesn’t guarantee a new school in West Gloucester. The study, according to the release, will propose three options ranging from renovation, repair, or building a new school building, and will aim to find the most cost-effective and “educationally appropriate” solution, Kirk’s statement indicated.
The study is expected to generate a floor plan and an internal layout for the school. Officials have said it pulls together the preliminary engineering and design for the new school before the project moves to construction.
The funding for the project covers the cost of a project manager, designer, and site testing. The designer and the project manager will be selected by the city’s 15-member School Building Committee.
The potential building project has been estimated at costing $30 million to $40 million, with the city due to receive a reimbursement of 48 percent from the MSBA, including for the cost of the study.
Whether the project brings renovation of the current facility, or construction of a new school, however, the MSBA will only fund a building that fits 355 students, according to its enrollment projections for the city.
Kirk and Superintendent Richard Safier accepted that number earlier this month, though it is less than West Parish’s 2011-2012 enrollment of 380 students, and falls far short of the 450- to 500-student facility suggested by Safier, who sought to open the door to attracting school choice students from other districts and to alleviate school space needs in other sections of the city.
The MSBA based its number on an 24 percent drop in Gloucester’s elementary school enrollment over the last 10 years.
The study, City Chief Administrative Officer James Duggan had said, will get underway in the spring of 2013, with a final City Council vote on the project tentatively pegged for August of next year.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3455 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @gdtnews on Twitter.