Mayor Carolyn Kirk has appointed a 13-member building committee to lead the proposed West Parish School building project.
The appointment marks one of the first concrete steps the city has taken toward building a new elementary school in West Gloucester.
The 13-member building committee will oversee the project from hiring a project manager to signing off on payments for construction, School Committee Chairman Jonathan Pope said.
The committee's task is tied to managing the West Gloucester project, which the city has entered for consideration by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).
City officials have tentatively pegged a potential new elementary school for the site of the current West Parish School. But, as to what this project will look like or cost, school officials have said that's up to a feasibility study — a study that City Chief Administrative Officer Jim Duggan said could cost around $500,000.
The West Parish school building project was put on the MSBA's list of potential projects or "eligibility period" in January.
The approval left the city and school district nine months to form the building committee, examine Gloucester's finances, maintenance practices, enrollment, and fund and start a feasibility study.
Everything but the feasibility study, Pope said, is in motion. The district and city, he added, is well into is own evaluation of enrollment, maintenance and financial analyses. He expects them to wrap up within the week.
"There's nothing terribly exciting to talk about," he said. "It's moving forward."
Pope, School Committee member Kathleen Clancy, Kirk, Duggan, Superintendent Richard Safier, and Public Works Director Mike Hale will sit on the building committee.
They'll be joined by Jim Hayfe, the city's facilities manager, Purchasing Agent Donna Compton, West Parish principal Jean Perry, City Chief Financial Officer Jeff Towne, Assistant Superintendent Brian Tarr, and three residents with construction and engineering experience — Tad Cunningham, Nick Taormina and Jim Groleau.
Duggan said he hopes to submit the reports to the MSBA in the coming week. The city still has to finish compiling the information, he said, but is well on its way.
"My goal is to get on their (the MSBA)'s July board meeting," he said. "We are being aggressive in pursuing this."
When those reports are in, he said, the administration will bring a request for funding for the feasibility study before the city council. Duggan said that request will come before the end of April.
But, as the city moves ahead on the West Parish project, Pope said the School Committee hit a roadblock with declaring Fuller School surplus. Before the district can let go of the school, he had said, it needs to find a place to put the offices and programs it has in the building.
Moving the preschool, he said, will go back to the drawing board. The district intended to move the preschool to the Pathways for Children facility on Emerson Avenue, and applied for a $500,000 state grant to do it. But that grant will not be forthcoming, Pope said.
While Pathways and the district would still like to partner, he said, that partnering will have to find another way to work.
"It's a good thing, but I don't know how we can make it work," Pope said.
Money to build an addition on the Emerson Avenue site doesn't exist in school budgets for either the current fiscal year or for fiscal 2013.
That goes for finding space for the district offices and transportation department.
All of that, he added, is still in motion.
Steven Fletcher can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3455, or at email@example.com.