Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA)

Calnan: New middle schools make sense

Edward T. Calnan:

I write as a member of the building committee for the new Pickering Middle School to be located off Parkland Avenue and another middle school proposed at McManus Field in West Lynn.

I want to correct some misinformation that has been circulating by the opponents of the school at the Parkland Avenue site. The suggestion has been made that the school would have a negative environmental impact on the nearby reservoir which is part of Lynn’s great water supply system.

I have walked this site myself. The new school will be built on 12 acres of the 44 acres available. The building will be located more than 250 feet from the reservoir, much farther away than the minimum requirements.

It should be noted that some homes in an adjoining neighborhood have been built in the past, much closer to the reservoir. The topography is such that the area to be built upon slopes away from the reservoir and surface water will drain naturally to wetlands on the site, as it does now.

The new building will be tied into the city’s sewer and drainage system. This project is subject to numerous environmental reviews and will be constructed in full conformance with all local and state agencies responsible for the protection of wetlands and public water supplies. In sum, Lynners can be assured that there will be no negative impact on the reservoir as a result of this project.

The other issue is the question of ownership of the parcel. The city’s Law Department has researched the real estate records extensively and determined that the parcel is, indeed, owned by the city. This is a big bonus as it minimizes the acquisition costs, keeping the overall project costs lower.

As a former Director of Community Development for the city for many years, I have dealt with many development consultants in neighborhood, downtown and waterfront developments.  

The consultant team we had when I served on the new Thurgood Marshall School Building Committee was as talented and impressive as any I’ve seen. And the results are manifested in a beautiful building that was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, providing a modern learning environment for the children in that district. We are fortunate to have members of that team working with us on the two new schools being proposed.

In viewing plans for new middle schools, our committee looked at 13 different sites in the city and, after much deliberation, chose the Parkland Avenue site and the McManus Field site as the best for the city. There are no sites that are even close in comparison after studying all the factors that come into play for site selection.

The state has told the city that it must plan for an additional 1,600 students in the next several years. The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) is willing to pay up to $100 million of the $188 million cost with the city’s share to be paid through a bond issue, subject to approval by the voters in the referendum on March 14th.

If the voters approve, there will be positive spin-offs as a result of the new schools. Real estate values will be improved. It is no secret that the first thing potential buyers ask realtors about is about is the quality of the school system. Impressive new teaching and learning facilities go a long way in putting a positive point on the fact that this is something Lynners care about.

Once a new Pickering Middle School is built with a 650-student capacity, it is very likely that Pine Hill would be put into the Pickering district, resulting in a shorter walk for students to a new and exciting facility. Also parts of the old Pickering School could be saved for a future expansion of the Sisson Elementary School and provide refurbished cafeteria, auditorium gymnasium and classroom space not available to them now.

The new West Lynn middle school housing 1,000 students would serve the surrounding neighborhoods so kids could walk to school and obviate the need for very expensive transportation to other schools in the city.

This new school would absorb more than 300 students from the presently overcrowded Breed Middle School, returning needed space for educational programming to that school.

The two new schools are tied together on the ballot on March 14th. An approval by the voters will avoid the need for double sessions at the middle school level in the near future. It will also take advantage of a $100 million investment by the state to give Lynn kids the same educational opportunities offered in more advantaged communities.

Make no mistake that if Lynn doesn’t take advantage of the state funding at this time it will be years, in my opinion, before we’ll have another opportunity like it. I urge Lynn voters to give a resounding approval on the two ballot questions on March 14th.

Do it for the kids and so we can look back after the projects are complete and know that we did the right thing for the city of Lynn.


Edward T. Calnan is a former Councillor-at-Large in Lynn.

Middle school offers a lesson in NIMBY

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Residents of 103 Parkland Ave. in Lynn are against building a new middle school in their back yard.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Residents will get a chance to sound off on the potential new middle school that would be built near Breeds Pond Reservoir off Parkland Avenue. A public forum will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the Pickering Middle School Auditorium..

The third public forum on the construction of two new middle schools will be hosted by the city, Lynn Public Schools and the Pickering Middle School Building Committee.

The forum will focus on the Breeds Pond Reservoir site, which Project Manager Lynn Stapleton said has provoked the most opposition from residents in prior sessions.

In October, the city’s School Building Committee approved the construction of two schools that would serve students in the Pickering Middle School district and West Lynn.

Under the $183 million proposal, a 652-student school would be built near Breeds Pond Reservoir off Parkland Avenue and a second facility to serve 1,008 students would be built on McManus Field on Commercial Street.

The fourth public forum, which will focus on the McManus Field site, will be held before Thanksgiving, Stapleton said.

Plans have been submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), the quasi-independent government that funds public schools. If approved, the agency would contribute $114.5 million towards the two schools, or 62.5 percent of the cost.

If approved by the MSBA and taxpayers, it would add $163 annually to the real estate tax bill for 25 years.

Stapleton said Wednesday’s forum will be about informing residents that the city is proceeding with the Reservoir and McManus sites.

“There is a great need for two schools because of the population and at this point, the city is willing to pay a significant share of the cost of two schools,” she said. “If we pass on this opportunity, the city is never going to be able to afford to pay for these two schools on their own. We’re really looking to find a compromise so we can take the benefit of the state paying the majority share of this, while attempting to minimize the impact on the city.”

Stapleton said studies are underway to look at the traffic on Parkland Avenue and Wyoma Square. Part of the studies will look at how to choose the correct school entrances and exits that will have the least effect on traffic.

Michael Donovan, the city’s Inspectional Services Department chief, who is also a member of the school building committee, acknowledged that there will be more traffic at the new school site.

“No matter where the school goes, there will be traffic impacts in the morning and the afternoon because we will be bringing 650 students in and out daily,” he said.

But he said the Parkland Avenue location near Breeds Pond Reservoir will have less impact than another proposed site on Magnolia Avenue because it’s near the Sisson Elementary School and the existing Pickering Middle School, which will likely be reused as an elementary school.

“Parkland Avenue is better suited to handle traffic than Magnolia Avenue,” Donovan said. “This small school won’t even be seen from Parkland Avenue or Lynnfield Street.”

A drawback to the Magnolia site is that there is a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) pipe located on the property that provides water to Swampscott and Marblehead. The pipe would have to be relocated, which city officials estimated would cost up to $800,000.

Another potential issue with the Parkland Avenue site comes from documents from 1893 the city’s law department recently became aware of suggesting the land belongs to Pine Grove Cemetery.

Brian Field, Lynn resident and funeral director at Solimine Funeral Homes, said he thought the proposed land for the Reservoir site would become an extension of Pine Grove Cemetery in the future. In the next 10 to 15 years, he said, Pine Grove is going to become full, leaving people to travel up to 15 miles away to bury their loved ones at a greater expense.

Field said in the city, there is still a large religious community that prefers a traditional burial.  

“The city obviously needs schools,” he said. “The issue I have with Parkland Avenue is the intended use was to be for a cemetery. It’s almost like they want the courts to decide.”


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Thomas Grillo contributed to this report.

School plan makes grade with neighbors

Rudolpho DeLeon, an employee at Corte Estilo on Commercial Street, stands at McManus Field, the possible location of a new middle school in Lynn. (Photo by Paula Muller)

By Thor Jourgensen

LYNN — They raised some concerns about increased traffic, but people living and working in the neighborhood bordering McManus Field where the city wants to build a middle school say they are generally happy with the plan.

“I like the idea. Kids learn more in a modern school. It’s partly about the technology,” said resident Celeste Cordero.

Cordero has lived for 19 years in one of the Neptune Towers high-rise apartment buildings overlooking the field. Wedged between the commuter rail tracks, Commercial Street and Lynn Vocational Technical Institute, the field is the proposed home for a 1,008-student middle school.

Cordero has seven grandchildren, including two middle schoolers. She said many middle school-age children live in Neptune Towers.

Commercial Street barber Rudolpho DeLeon only sees positives with the city plan to build on McManus Field.

“It’s good for local education and it will bring customers,” he said.

McManus Field is one of two sites approved by the city’s School Building Committee to be future middle school locations. The committee last Friday picked McManus Field and a site for a proposed 652-student school near Breeds Pond off Parkland Avenue.

City Inspectional Services Director Michael Donovan said city officials will meet on Thursday with Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) officials to review the site choices.

Tentative plans call for building a middle school on the field’s Commercial Street side with an entrance way off Commercial. Donovan said the front of the building would face the commuter rail tracks.

“This is very preliminary,” he said.

The site plan shares similarities with the location of the new Marshall Middle School. Opened in April, Marshall was built on a vacant industrial site on Brookline Street bordering the tracks.

Donovan said McManus Field’s size is not the only reason it is a good school site. He said information gathered by the school department indicates many of the city’s middle school-age children live in West Lynn neighborhoods, including ones south of Lynn Common, near the field.

“It’s a good site. It’s where the kids are,” he said.

Ernesto Perez agrees with that assessment but wonders where young athletes will play and practice if McManus Field becomes a school site. His automotive repair business has been on Commercial Street for almost 10 years and he is also worried about a school adding traffic to Commercial.

Donovan said preliminary school construction plans will preserve field space located on the field’s Tech side.

Marvin Pojoy lives off South Common Street and likes the idea of a middle school coming to his neighborhood.

“It’s good. My children would be close to the school,” he said.

A new school will also boost Commercial Market’s business, said Silvia Urrea. She works in the little store down Commercial Street from the field.

“The street will be busier and we will have more customers,” she said.

Talliah Brown grew up in the Marian Gardens housing complex and offered another reason why building a middle school on McManus Field makes sense.

“It will mean a lot of jobs for the community,” she said.

The $183 million two-school proposal, if approved, would see the MSBA contribute $114.5 million towards the two schools or 62.5 percent of the cost with the city paying for the remainder.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

Mayor stands ground on school sites

Pickering Middle School (Item file photo)

By Thomas Grillo

LYNN — The city’s School Building Committee overwhelmingly approved construction of two schools that would serve students in the Pickering Middle School district and West Lynn.

Under the $183 million proposal, a 652-student school would be built near Breeds Pond Reservoir off Parkland Avenue and a second facility to serve 1,008 students would be built on McManus Field on Commercial Street.

The Friday morning vote reaffirmed the decision made by the committee in August. It came in the wake of questions raised about the Parkland Avenue site earlier this week. City attorney James Lamanna said the law department became aware of documents from 1893 last week suggesting the land belongs to Pine Grove Cemetery.

Ward 5 City Councilor Dianna Chakoutis, whose district includes the proposed site, was the sole vote against the project Friday. Prior to the roll call, she spoke against the plan while Pine Hill residents looked on.

Resident Brian Field said the land that the city plans to use for the school on Parkland Avenue was intended to be a cemetery.  

But Michael Donovan, the city’s Inspectional Services Department chief who is also a member of the building committee, told the panel the plan is the best option for the city.

“No matter where you put a public facility, no one wants it,” he said. “What is best for the city may not be the best for one section of the city.”

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy acknowledged that the committee is faced with a series of bad options. She said a proposal to build the school on Magnolia Avenue near Pickering  has its own set of problems.

While officials have said it would cost taxpayers $800,000 to move the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority pipe on the property to make way for the school, the mayor said it would probably cost much more.

“I suspect that the pipe is not in good condition, it’s been down there a long time and soil conditions are not optimal for its preservation,” she said. “I’m afraid when we begin our obligation to reroute the water to Swampscott and Marblehead, we will find it to be far more expensive and time-consuming than we’re thinking of right now.”

In addition, she said a new school in that section of the city would exacerbate traffic problems in an already congested area. She also noted that the Gallagher Park option won’t work because it would be a tight fit in a heavily populated neighborhood.  

Next week, the building committee will make its case to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), the quasi-independent government that funds public schools. If approved, the agency would contribute $114.5 million towards the two schools or 62.5 percent of the cost.

If approved by the MSBA and taxpayers, it would add $163 annually to the real estate tax bill for 25 years.  


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Pine Hill stuck in the middle

Pickering Middle School (Item file photo)

By Adam Swift

 

LYNN — Residents in the Pine Hill neighborhood are firmly against building a new school near Breeds Pond Reservoir off Parkland Avenue, as well as a second potential site at Gallagher Park.

Nearly 100 members of the Pine Hill Civic Association and assorted concerned neighbors met at the Hibernian Hall Thursday night to discuss the evolving nature of plans to replace the deteriorating Pickering Middle School on Conomo Avenue.

“This is our little slice of paradise living in Pine Hill,” said neighborhood resident Don Castle. “We don’t want anyone changing or disrupting our neighborhood with a big school.”

While the residents, as well as three city councilors who attended the meeting, are firmly against the building of a new middle school at either the Parkland Avenue or Gallagher sites, the whole issue could be a moot point by late this morning.

The Pickering Middle School Building Committee is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. this morning, with discussion centered on the Parkland site.

The building committee was set to focus on legal documents identified by the city law department tracing historic ownership of land proposed for the school construction.

In August, the building committee approved constructing two middle schools to replace Pickering. One school would house 652 students at the Parkland site, while a larger school for 1,008 students would be built on McManus Field on Commercial Street.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), which would fund a portion of the project, has to approve the potential middle school sites.

City attorney James Lamanna said the law department became aware of documents from 1893 last week suggesting that the Pine Grove Cemetery Commission obtained a loan and purchased the land where the new school could be constructed.

Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis, Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano and Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre all reiterated on Thursday night that they are against seeing a new school built at either the Parkland or Gallagher locations.

Castle also brought forward the possibility of a taxpayer initiative legal action against the city to intercede against the taking of the Parkland Avenue land, if that option does move forward.

“I thought Parkland Avenue was off the table, and that’s a move in the right direction,” said LaPierre. “I want a new middle school, and it would be great to have two new middle schools.”

LaPierre said he wants to see a new school at McManus Field, and possibly a smaller school on Magnolia Avenue near the current Pickering School.

A drawback to the Magnolia site is that there is a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority pipe located on the property that provides water to Swampscott and Marblehead. Relocating the pipe could cost as much as $800,000, according to city officials.


Adam Swift can be reached at aswift@itemlive.com.

Marveling at Marshall School

ITEM FILE PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Marshall Middle School students leaving their new school at the end of day one.

LYNN — Students are on vacation, but the city’s newest public school is open for tours on Thursday for a ribbon cutting ceremony saluting the people involved in financing, designing and building Marshall Middle School.

School Superintendent Catherine Latham said everyone is invited to the 11 a.m. event at the 100 Brookline St. school.

The highlight of the morning will be opening a time capsule sealed during the former Eastern Junior High School’s dedication on Porter Street. Opened in 1923, Eastern was renamed for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in 1993.

The new Marshall opened in April and Latham said Thursday’s ribbon cutting ceremony is a chance for residents who have not been in the school to tour it and an opportunity to praise architect Raymond Design Associates and builder Walsh Brothers.

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg has also been invited to the ceremony. The treasurer oversees the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).

“This wonderful new school is the fruit of hard work by city officials, Lynn public schools and many individuals, groups and committees,” Latham said in a statement.

City and school officials gave their sites on building new middle schools with initial plans for replacing Pickering Middle School scheduled to be submitted to the MSBA today.

Making the right pick for a new Pickering

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Pickering Middle School.

Instead of enjoying a quiet July with schools closed and students off for the summer, educators are ramping up for a July 20 submission to the state on a design for a new middle school, or middle schools, as well as construction cost estimates.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) recognizes the city has a tidal wave of elementary school students looming over local middle schools, including 100-year-old Pickering Middle School.

The state has authorized the city to plan middle school projects providing classroom seats for up to 1,660 students. But how many schools the city will build and where they will be built them are questions to be answered.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy is not alone in opposing construction of a single, gigantic middle school. She favors construction of two schools on two sites. The short list for sites includes land off Parkland Avenue and Robert McManus Field adjacent to Lynn Vocational Technical Institute.

The submission to MSBA will spell out the city’s construction preferences and details on sites and cost. It will reveal the city’s and the state’s financial contribution.

Coincidentally, the submission deadline comes a day before the school community gathers for a midsummer celebration at the new Marshall Middle School. The 1,100 student Brookline Street school opened in April without fanfare. The July 21 ribbon cutting will acknowledge the city’s success in building its first new public school in nearly 20 years.

The next public school project will exceed Marshall in size and cost.  Public comment and involvement in project planning are crucial. In an old city like Lynn, there are no “perfect” school sites. Finding land that conforms with state school construction standards and is compatible with the neighborhood, is a challenge.

The Marshall site worked because Brookline Street residents were given plenty of opportunities to offer their opinion on the school project. With its back to the commuter rail tracks, the new Marshall has fewer neighbors than schools located in the middle of residential neighborhoods.

McManus Field also abuts the commuter rail tracks and its neighbors include Neptune Towers, Tech and Commercial Street. Building a school on the field will displace athletes who should have increased opportunities to use the Common.

By contrast, building two new middle schools, including one off Parkland Avenue, provides West Lynn and the neighborhoods ,where Pickering students live, with new schools. Many middle schoolers live in West Lynn neighborhoods, underscoring McManus Field’s value as a site. Pickering was initially ruled out as a viable site for a new school, but its residents deserve to continue to be served by a local middle school.

July 20 is just around the corner and proposals for future local public school construction will help define Lynn education for the next century.

Peabody students see the future

BY ADAM SWIFT

PEABODY — The handover of the keys to the new Higgins Middle School to the city on Tuesday was symbolic.

But the excitement of the students who will be entering the new school in September is real.

“Looking around, it looks so futuristic,” said Adam Abdulghani, who will enter seventh grade next year. “It looks like someone took a page from ‘Back to the Future.’”

He was one of more than 20 Higgins students who took part in Tuesday’s ceremony in the $92.6 million school’s media center.

Also on hand were the project’s architect, DiNisco Design Partnership of Boston; Rhode Island-based general contractor Agostini-Bacon Construction; project manager Daedalus Projects Inc. of Boston and Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt, Jr.

“This is an exciting time for the city of Peabody,” said Bettencourt. “There are a number of projects, but the biggest one and the one I am most proud of is the new middle school.”

Before Bettencourt took office in 2012, there were plans to renovate and build an addition on the existing school.

Bettencourt later contacted the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), a quasi-independent authority created to fund capital improvement projects in public schools, and told them the city needed a new middle school, according to Jack McCarthy, the agency’s executive director.

Construction began on the new school, only feet away from the existing Higgins, in the summer of 2014. The MSBA is covering just under $44 million of the project cost.

From the 1,000-seat gym, to the culinary arts room with eight kitchenettes, to the food court, the students who got an impromptu tour of the school said they couldn’t wait to come back in September for a closer look.

“It’s so big and beautiful, and so different from the old school,” said student Lily Baglio.

Ketsia Kabeya was one of several students who said she is worried about getting lost in the 224,000-square-foot building — more than twice the size of a typical Home Depot.

But Kabeya said she liked the futuristic look and was excited about the start of the year next fall.

Isabella McCarthy said she liked the modern look of the school, filled with natural light and lots of windows.

“It’s just like a college, but even better,” said Sofia Valencia.

“Because it’s free,” said Ryan Yuu.

Marblehead says yes to Gerry study

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
A sign in support of the Gerry School feasibility study seen on Washington street in Marblehead.

BY GAYLA CAWLEY

MARBLEHEAD — Residents are willing to pay more taxes for a new fire truck and a study to renovate the Elbridge Gerry School.

On Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly voted ‘yes’ to both questions, with 2,176 in favor of funds for the Gerry School feasibility study with 875 against. More taxes were also approved for the fire pumper truck by 2,403 people, while 628 voted ‘no.

With the approval, the fire truck will cost the average homeowner an additional $74.40 over 10 years, the length of the bond. For the study, taxpayers would be responsible for another $55.80 over five years.

“I think it’s good news that both questions passed,” said Town Administrator John McGinn.

Voters were asked to exclude the items from Proposition 2 ½, the tax limiting measure that  places limits on the amount a community can raise through property taxes. A municipality cannot levy more than two and a half percent of the total value of all taxable real and personal property.

Last month, Town Meeting approved funding for the $750,000 study and a $620,000 fire truck.

McGinn said the results will allow the town to move forward with the financing of the new fire truck and allow the Gerry School Building Committee to follow the process prescribed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to commence with the study.

He wasn’t surprised by the results, saying that the case was made for the need for both at Town Meeting.

The state will pay about 32 percent for the cost of the study, or $243,525. Taxpayers will be responsible for $506,475. The feasibility study will be conducted for a K-1 school that has never been improved since it was built in 1906. The survey is the first step to qualify for state money for the MSBA.

The project would have to be approved at Town Meeting in 2018. Construction options would be considered after the study is completed. The process could take up to two years.

Cindy Schieffer, a member of the Building Committee, said the board will work together with the MSBA over the course of the study project to look at all possible options for improved Gerry School facilities. She wasn’t surprised by the results.

“I think I’ve always had faith that the town would vote in support of our schools,” Schieffer said.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Sites and sounds of Lynn middle school search

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Pickering Middle School.

BY THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — Proposed middle school sites are the focus of Wednesday’s 7 p.m. hearing in the Pickering Middle School auditorium.

School officials and design consultants will discuss the initial search for a future location for middles schools and design options.

Superintendent Catherine Latham said the discussion will also focus on the types of educational programs local educators want to include in new schools.

The evening will also include depict interior and exterior views of Marshall Middle School, opened a month ago on Brookline Street.

“This is the first public forum for Pickering and it will allow residents and interested persons the opportunity to have their questions answered and their opinions heard and acknowledged,” Latham said.

Lynn’s three public middle schools had a combined 3,000-student enrollment when the school year began last fall.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy during winter planning meetings said the city needs to plan and build to educate another 1,500 middle school-age students.

The city is working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to meet Lynn’s school needs. The MSBA has authorized the city to undertake construction to provide school space for up to 1,660 students.

Initial discussions have focused on building two new schools with General Electric field on Summer Street and land off Parkland Avenue as potential sites for two new middle schools.

School officials are also considering plans to complete an addition to Breed Middle School and reorganize the school’s educational programs to match the cluster concept used at Marshall. Groups of about 120 students are grouped around classrooms each offering a different academic theme.

Other potential school building sites will be outlined at Wednesday’s meeting. But tentative plans calls for Pickering, located on Conomo Avenue, to provide space to ease overcrowding in elementary schools. The old Marshall School on Porter Street is scheduled to be torn down.  

Another hearing is scheduled for June.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com

Is school out in Marblehead?

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
A sign on the door of the custodian’s office at the Elbridge Gerry School in Marblehead.

By GABE MARTINEZ

MARBLEHEAD — The cluttered classrooms and an aging boiler at Elbridge Gerry School could be updated if voters approve a $795,000 feasibility study at Town Meeting on Monday, May 2.

Built in 1906, the K-1 school has not been renovated once in its history.

Ken Lord, executive director of technology and operations for Marblehead Schools, said the building is in dire need of repairs.

“There are two issues with this building,” Lord said. “Heating plant, windows, carpets, the floors, and the ceilings, and then there are the programmatic issues. The building is just not large enough for the purposes that we use it for today.”

The boiler was installed in 1953, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. It has failed three times this year alone.

Five different parts of the boiler have been blocked off, which does not allow the boiler to be used at its full capacity. It also uses rare No. 4 heating oil.

There are 160 kindergarten and first grade students in the building. There are eight classrooms, four for each grade. The building has just two bathrooms for students, both of which are in the basement. There is one bathroom for 28 teachers, faculty, and staff.

The library lacks furniture – except for a chair for the librarian. There’s not enough space to hold all of its books. As a result, shelves are located in the hallway. If a student requires special attention, they use space in the corridor.

For a decade, the school’s needs have been apparent to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), a quasi-public agency that funds school capital improvements. In 2006, the MSBA visited the school, and gave the school its worst rating.   

The feasibility study is a requirement from the MSBA in order to qualify for a state reimbursement program for a new building project, according to marbleheadschools.org. MSBA can reimburse communities up to 80 percent of construction costs.

The process can take up to two years.

In the meantime, the school continues to work with what they have.

“We’ve made the best out of a bad situation,” said Sean Satterfield, the school’s principal.


Gabe Martinez can be reached at gmartinez@itemlive.com follow him on Twitter @gemartinez92.