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Town Meeting to Consider Feasibility Study for Potential Stoughton High Building Project

Article 66 is asking for Town Meeting to borrow up to $1 million for a feasibility study for a potential renovation or replacement of SHS. Almost 57% of the feasibility study's cost is reimbursable. Take a look at a photo tour of SHS in the media gallery.

The will ask Town Meeting members to fund a feasibility study for a potential renovation or replacement of , a required step by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in any school building project. 

The schools are anticipating the cost of the study to be as much as $1 million, although it can end up costing less. The town will be reimbursed for the cost of this study at a rate of 56.6 percent.

The presentation on the feasibility study that will be made at Town Meeting is posted in the media gallery as a PDF.

A feasibility study, according to the School Department's presentation, will help:

  • Identify a school's educational program needs, determine if existing facilities meet those needs, and propose design alternatives to correct deficiencies.
  • Develop conceptual site and building plans. Options could include renovation, addition, and new construction. Narratives are provided for structural, mechanical, electrical, and life-safety systems, as well as specifications and costs for each option. Schematic designs will be prepared for the preferred option.

(SOI) were for both SHS and the back in January. However, SHS is the district's top priority, Deborah Sovinee, a member of both the School Committee and School Department's Feasibility Committee, said. 

"The Massachusetts School Building Authority requires a feasibility study as the first phase of any school building project after an invitation into the process," the School Department's presentation states. 

But, "the town will only spend the money [for the feasibility study] if the School Building Authority invites the District into the school building process."

The High School was originally built in 1923, with additions in 1952, 1955 and 1965.

The SOI for SHS indicated that it was a priority to replace/renovate the building because it was “structurally unsound” and was “obsolete,” unable to “provide for a full range of programs consistent with state and approved local requirements.”

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges placed Stoughton High on formal accreditation "warning status" because of the condition of the building. 

SHS, according to the SOI, has issues with meeting ADA compliancy, and has outdated HVAC and electrical distribution systems. There are also issues with asbestos in tile and pipe insulation and lead in the water “due to lead containing solder.” The school is also dealing with water infiltration issues. 

The gymnasium and media center are undersized, and there is not enough specialized classroom space. Science labs are outdated and there is a lack of storage space in the school.

Sovinee wrote in an email that this feasibility study "is not a request for money for a new high school." 

"It is a required step to examine the problems and develop cost-effective options that we as a town can discuss. An affirmative vote would send a positive message to the Massachusetts School Building Authority about town support for addressing the physical problems of the schools. The money will not be spent unless we get an invitation into the school building process," Sovinee said.

"Our minimum reimbursement rate is 56.6% and will only go up in the future. Important information about what the problems are that need to be addressed, why we need to do this, and when, is contained in the presentation. I hope readers will tune in [Wednesday] night, or better yet, come down to the high school auditorium to support this important initiative," she continued.

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Take a look at a photo tour of SHS in the media gallery. Live tours will be given Wednesday, May 16 at 7 p.m. before the start of Town Meeting.

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Fiscal Conservative May 16, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Why waste the $$$. If needed, build a new school. Save $$$ by using a plan from another district (Whitman Hansen) and adapt it to Stoughton's needs. The state expects towns to save $ by doing this. Its a no brainer, if the town really values the taxpeyer.
Just Saying May 16, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Obviously, Stoughton needs a new high school. Just put the million dollars into the new building and get it started! And while they're at it, build a great new PK-8 for the town. Think of all the money that would be saved in the long run if they aren't paying all the duplicate salaries for principals, office staff, nurses, other duplicate faculty, building maintenance and operating expenses for 7 schools (Jones, Dawe, Gibbons, Hansen, South, West, O'Donnell).
ladyknight May 16, 2012 at 03:37 PM
I believe from the article, that the feasibility study is required by the MSBA as the first step in the process. One point of the feasibility study will be to show whether renovating the building is more feasible than simply building a new high school. While I think the scope of the renovations will be such that it would be easier to simply build a new school using a set of plans from the MSBA (like Whitman-Hansen's) that can be adapted to Stoughton's needs, not everyone (from what I have heard) agrees and there are those that think renovations will be enough and less expensive. Also, I believe the feasibility study will help define the particular ways in which the MSBA's plans can be adapted to meet any unique needs for Stoughton.

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