WESTWOOD, MA – The proposal for the new combined Hanlon-Deerfield Elementary primary school and the debt exclusion to help fund it will be presented ahead of the City of Westwood special meeting on Monday, October 18.
The meeting will be held at 5 p.m. at Flahive Field at Westwood High School.
Superintendent Emily Parks explained that the proposal – which has been in the works for three years – is now being presented to City Assembly members as the only item on the agenda. It includes a debt exclusion, which would be paid over 30 years. Members are expected to approve a property tax exemption with a two-thirds margin.
“I want to encourage everyone to go to the town hall and vote,” she said. âWhen I talk to some parents, they seem to think it’s done because we’ve been talking about it for three years and because it received the support of the school committee. But he must be approved to go to the special election on Tuesday, October 26. “
The last step will be a majority vote in favor of the election to allow the project to move forward.
In April, the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s board of trustees approved a grant of about $ 18 million to help fund the $ 87.8 million project. It is expected to be completed in 2023.
âWe applied for a program through the Massachusetts School Building Authority, whereby the state provides partial reimbursement of the cost,â Parks said, noting that funding for the feasibility study was approved when the 2018 town meeting. “The special town meeting needs to approve the balance. From my perspective, this is an incredible opportunity for the community as we are going to receive state funding.”
The idea for the combined elementary school began when the city drew up its master plan and carried out a capital needs study, according to Parks.
âThe study identified the Hanlon and Deerfield as in need of replacement,â she said. “They were built between 1948 and 1953. Some of the systems are original buildings.”
The expansion of the current Hanlon building was considered, but after a feasibility study was carried out, this idea was scrapped. There are deficiencies in both school buildings due to their age. These include the need to replace HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems. There are also issues with the Hanlon windows and roof as well as accessibility.
âThese schools are past their useful life,â Parks said, noting that the school building committee had been formed to gather feedback from the community. âClassrooms are undersized.
Information and a video are available here.
âWe have been very, very committed to getting feedback from the community,â she added, noting that there had been 75 community meetings, including 13 community forums. “We looked at 15 different project options and finally decided to combine the Hanlon and the Deerfield.”
Some of the needs identified included a larger gymnasium and sports fields and improved access to the building.
The proposed site for the new school is to the west of the current Hanlon School building at 790 Gay Street, in the wooded area behind the school. The new facility is designed to accommodate up to 560 students.
The building plans were prepared by Dore + Whittier. His website said the inspiration for the layout came from the woods, and it has been called a “school in the woods.” A palette of earth tones and terracotta will be used for the two-story building. Extended learning spaces will be placed next to the classrooms. The school area is 113,141 square feet and will be net zero ready.
A neighborhood park is included in the design, which will include a multi-purpose sports field and a little league baseball field. The cafeteria has been designed with a stage that can be used by both students and local groups.
âWe have been very conscious of trying to design a large building that meets the needs of the community while carefully considering cost and financial responsibility,â Parks said.