Committee approves first step in School Building Authority process

North Attleborough High School

By Max

Earlier this week, the School Committee approved three Statements of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, with the goal to either renovate the high school or build a new elementary complex.

The committee held a brief virtual meeting on May 19 to discuss the submission of three Statements of Interest (SOI) to the MSBA. Two of these would be for the Amvet Boulevard and Community schools, and the third for the high school. Each year the agency allows school districts to submit statements indicating their desire to renovate or replace a school. Multiple letters can be submitted, and the MSBA makes the decision on which project takes priority.

Superintendent Scott Holcomb said that SOIs can be re-submitted each year, and it usually takes several attempts before a district is chosen to move to the Feasibility Study.

They would review the building and programs,” said Holcomb of the Feasibility Study. “It’s not uncommon to submit multiple times, usually 7-11 attempts. They’re picked based on need and whether the town can afford it.”

This will be the fourth time North Attleborough has sent an SOI for the high school, and the second time it’s been done for elementary. The MSBA provides funding to cover roughly half the cost of the project, with the town paying the rest. The town received MSBA funding years back for new science labs at the high school.

The plan for the high school would be a complete renovation to make it more environmentally-efficient and alleviate space limitations.

We have overcrowding at the high school,” said Holcomb. “We cannot expand the programs and have outdated doors and windows. It is not what is considered to be a green building.”

Holcomb said the elementary SOIs call for a reconfiguration or consolidation of the existing buildings. A review of the district showed that it would be beneficial to construct a new school on open space between the Amvet Boulevard and Roosevelt schools. The new complex would house the Amvet and Community students and possibly those at Roosevelt.

The Amvet School would likely be demolished, and the Roosevelt could become the new office for the school administration. The Community School would be turned back to the town.

They’ll (the MSBA) look at all three submissions,” said Holcomb. “They have already assessed all the schools and so have that information as well.”

Committee member Tasha Buzzell asked if the high school was a priority over the elementary. Holcomb said that the district pays the tuition for students that attend vocational or charter schools, and this can be as much as double the cost at North Attleborough High School. Tri-County Regional Vocational High School is also in the process of applying for MSBA funding for a new building, and many North Attleborough students go there.

We don’t want to lose money that should go to the town schools,” said Holcomb. “You want to expand opportunities for students within this high school so they choose North Attleborough first.”