, Gloucester, MA


January 11, 2013

My View: Surplus of Fuller makes educational, financial sense

The Gloucester School Committee takes their responsibility of financial oversight of the School Department very seriously.

For the past 10 years resources for education have been very limited, the same as all city departments. The Plan for Effective Learning Communities, enacted in 2007, was four years in development. In 2008, we closed Fuller because it did not fit into our educational vision and to save money. This week, we have declared Fuller School as surplus.

Recently, people have advocated for the reopening of Fuller as a cost-savings measure. There may be some savings, but not nearly enough to justify the cost of renovating the building to current standards.

In 2006-7, the last year that it was used as a K-5 school, Fuller had 484 students in four sections of Grade 1 through 5, along with five kindergarten sections and four separate special education classrooms for a total of 29 classes.

For comparison only, I will use a combination of Beeman and Veterans Schools, which last year had a combined student population of 520 in five sections of K-3 and four sections of 4th `and 5th grade classes and 2 separate Special Education classrooms for a total of 31 classes.

Fuller School covers 176,000 square feet, of which 12,500 square feet — or 7 percent of the building — is occupied by the preschool and the administration. Beeman and Vets are a combined 71,000 square feet, of which 9,000 square feet or 12.5 percent are modular classrooms added in 2008. In 2006-7 the energy costs / combined heat and electricity for Fuller School was $254,026.

The combined energy costs for Beeman and Vets was a total of $109,938 for the same year. When you decrease Fuller’s energy costs by 7 percent for the administration and pre-school, and increase Beeman/Vets by 12.5 percent — the modular classrooms added later — add the 11.5 percent that energy cost have increased since 2007, it would cost $125,500 more to heat and light Fuller School than Beeman and Vets.

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