GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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July 17, 2013

ME leaders eye school building options

MANCHESTER — Leaders of the Manchester Essex Regional School District weighing their options for addressing the needs of her two elementary schools – including potentially building a single, central elementary school that could serve children and parents in both towns.

The assessment of the district’s elementary school choices follows a facilities report by the Norwell-based architecture firm, Habeeb and Associates Architects. The needs assessment is based on projected future enrollments in the two elementary schools through 2025.

In all, the report explores three options that were determined by the district. They are:

Renovate and add onto both Manchester Memorial School and Essex Elementary School if needed, at a projected overall cost of about $35,186,806.

Provide additions and renovations to both schools, pegged at $35,210,366, but split them up — so that one of the town elementary schools would serve all of the district’s pre-kindergarten students through Grade 2, with the other school housing students in Grades 3-5.

Constructing a single new school that would serve all of the elementary students, with the building to be near the towns line and of equal distance to each town’s core. That route would cost about $41,040,000, according to the report.

The report notes a benefit of rehabilitating the current buildings and keeping the grade structure intact is that it would be less costly as well as provide the least amount of changes to places where students are already accustomed.

Although building additions and renovating the buildings would cause some noise during the school year, this option would also impact open space at both elementary schools, the consultant’s report states.

The second option would also seek to build an early childhood education center at Essex Elementary School, while Manchester Memorial Elementary School would house Grades 3, 4 and 5. Both of these options would need two approvals from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, and only one project could be completed at a time due to grant issues.

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