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July 26, 2013

My View: Superintendent Richard Safier

In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts School Building Authority governs school building projects.

The benefits of working with the MSBA are twofold:

A.) The MSBA closely regulates and monitors all aspects of the entire construction process, thus ensuring that from start to finish the work is of the highest quality;

B.) In working through the MSBA, the city of Gloucester stands to receive a minimum of a 48 percent reimbursement for the entire project.

In early 2012, the city of Gloucester was accepted by the Massachusetts School Building Authority to develop plans for an addition, renovation, or new construction of the West Parish Elementary School.

This acceptance was the result of an initial “statement of interest” — first submitted back in 2009, but was delayed and then raised again in 2012 as an interest on the part of the city and the School Department. That statement of interest, then and now, was voted upon and supported by the City Council.

Having been approved, the District (city and School Department) entered into what is termed an eligibility period. Based upon information submitted to the MSBA, we were then invited to enter into the next phase of the process, the feasibility study. Funding for the feasibility study was unanimously approved by the City Council.

The purpose of the feasibility study is to have professional engineers and architects study the conditions for the project and provide that information to a designer. This review requires an analysis of all aspects of the current conditions of the buildings as well as the grounds around the buildings for possible construction capability (ledge, clay, wetlands, etc.).

The designer uses that information to develop several possibilities for a new West Parish: either adding to the existing building, renovating the existing building, or constructing a new building.

While the physical spaces were being analyzed, school department personnel were working with the consultants (Dore and Whittier) on developing an “educational narrative” which discusses many aspects of the current and future educational programs.

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