GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 3, 2013

W. Parish design gets state green light

Plans for building a new West Parish Elementary school as a $30 million, three-story “L”-shaped structure will roll forward into a detailed planning stage after a unanimous approval vote from the state board that will help fund the project.

The preferred schematic design for the West Parish School, which passed almost without questioning or discussion at Wednesday’s Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) meeting in Boston, came on the heels of the same state board moving forward with what one board member said would be the “most expensive school ever built in Massachusetts by a long shot,” a potential $300 million Boston middle/high school.

The next step for the Gloucester project is for the MSBA to work in collaboration with the district to produce detailed designs for the potential school project.

State Treasurer Steven Grossman, who sits on the board, commended the so-far successful work and planning to replace West Parish.

“Listening to the needs of a community and developing projects accordingly are priorities at the MSBA, and the West Parish Elementary School project is a case study in that sentiment,” said Grossman. “Thanks to our collaborative work with local officials, we are working to build a safe and modern educational facility that will provide students with a top-notch learning environment.”

In support of Gloucester’s project, Superintendent Richard Safier, School Committee President Jonathan Pope and School Committee member Kathy Clancy attended the meeting, with Mayor Carolyn Kirk and State Sen. Bruce Tarr speaking on behalf of the West Parish project.

“This is my alma mater we’re talking about,” Tarr said. “And even though I love the building and its configuration, I love the community more and know it’s time for change.”

At prior meetings with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the state board inquired about topics ranging from accessibility and drop-off points at the school to the possibilities of “science exploration” inside and outside of the new building.

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