GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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March 30, 2013

School leaders advance project

Gloucester School Committee members and city councilors will carpool to Dedham Monday to view a new school that some say could act as the model for a rebuild they are leaning toward for the West Parish Elementary School.

The school’s architect team, Dore & Whittier Architects Inc., suggested the tour of Dedham’s recently completed Avery Elementary School to the Gloucester school committee as the building designed by Dore & Whittier acts as one of the architects’ certified models for a school. But, City Councilor Bruce Tobey thinks the committee ought to pump the brakes on tours while the city considers options besides a complete rebuild of the West Gloucester school.

”Setting the initial focus on deciding what ‘new model’ school we want to buy is the wrong focus,” Tobey wrote in a My View column to the Times. “It is a mistake to decide which model car we want to buy before we figure out whether buying this new car now is either the right priority or a purchase we can afford in the long run.”

Need for ‘dialogue’

Tobey pointed to what he called “poor planning” on the school committee’s part. He questioned plans for the future of the Fuller School building, and the state’s reimbursement policy for funding potential repairs on that building concerns him. Though the school committee is planning a separate review of the city’s remaining schools, Tobey wants to see how those schools rank before making a decision to replace West Parish with a new building.

“It is time to park this conversation and do a comprehensive review of the total situation with all the facts on the table, with Fuller in play and a real meaningful public dialogue, too,” Tobey said in an interview Friday.

Kathleen Clancy, a school committee member and chair of that panel’s Building and Finance Subcommittee, said a new school building is in order, referencing the Massachusetts School Building Authority statement of interest report that points to various issues.

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