The Stoughton School Department experienced a setback in the preliminary stages with its plans to start the potential replacement or renovation of Stoughton High School or the South Elementary School.
The Stoughton Public Schools received official word Monday from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) that its Statement of Interests (SOI) filed for Stoughton High School and the South Elementary School will not be accepted this cycle.
The MSBA has an upcoming January board meeting and neither SOI will be on the agenda, the school department announced in a press release Tuesday morning.
Filing a SOI is just the first step in a lengthy process for replacing or renovating a school.
Stoughton started this SOI application process in October 2011, but after more than a year, Stoughton will have to resubmit and hope for a more favorable response next cycle.
"The Stoughton School District has the opportunity to reapply to the Massachusetts [School] Building Authority when a new funding cycle opens again in January," the press release from the school department states.
"The need for a new or extensively renovated Stoughton High School and South Elementary School is still very great, and with each year will become greater."
But the school department acknowledges, "it is difficult for the MSBA to sort through the very deserving and needy applications every year to decide which they can fund based on their finite budget."
In fact, it was hardly a guarantee that Stoughton would have been accepted this cycle.
According to the MSBA website, 121 school districts in Massachusetts submitted a combined total of 280 Statements of Interest in FY2012, including the two from Stoughton. Of the 280 submissions, 40 percent were resubmitted from previous years and 34 percent were re-certified FY2011 SOIs, so it is not a guarantee that a SOI is accepted.
"Out of the towns that were invited into the process, the majority were applicants that had previously applied or were schools that had overcrowding issues," the school department press release stated.
The South School opened in 1958, while Stoughton High School was originally built in 1923, with additions in 1952, 1955 and 1965. The SOIs spell out numerous physical issues with both buildings. SHS was the district's top priority.
"The reasons for renovation/replacement stated in our School District's application are identified facility problems and an accreditation warning based on the state of the facilities, but not overcrowding, which was a factor in acceptances of some school systems into this year's process," the school department press release stated.
The 2012 Annual Town Meeting already voted to fund a feasibility study, which helps to identify a school's educational program needs and develop conceptual site and building plans, but a study can not be conducted until a SOI is approved and a school district is welcomed into the MSBA pipeline. So a feasibility study will still be on hold.
The MSBA conducted site visits at SHS and the South this past July, and Stoughton's SOIs could not be considered until this had taken place. The visits will not have to be repeated when Stoughton resubmits the next cycle, giving the schools more time for its applications to be considered, according to the release.
"The Stoughton School District will continue to pursue this invitation tirelessly and with renewed vigor for as long as it takes to start the rebuilding process, which our residents and their children so need and deserve," the release concluded.