State OKs $50 million grant for new Wareham elementary school

Dec 12, 2018

It’s official: A new $90 million elementary school is coming to Wareham following state approval on Wednesday.

The new school will replace the nearly 60-year-old Minot Forest Elementary School, which was closed this summer. Minot Forest students were moved to a wing of the middle school until the new school is built. Wednesday morning the Massachusetts School Building Authority OK’d a $50 million grant to fund a portion of the cost.

The new school is expected to open in roughly two and half years, according to officials. Once complete, the school will consolidate Minot Forest and Decas Elementary, housing up to 1,020 students from kindergarten through grade 4 inside a 159,989-square-foot building.

In November, Wareham voters approved borrowing $40 million via a “debt exclusion” to fund the town’s share. Looking ahead, local and state officials must enter into a Project Funding Agreement, which will detail the project’s scope and budget.

“Wareham students will soon have a beautiful new space which will undoubtedly enhance and improve their ability to excel in the classroom,” said Massachusetts School Building Authority Executive Director John McCarthy.

The $90 million cost includes furnishings and technology for the school, moving services, architect fees, inspection fees, traffic studies and the removal of hazardous material from the site during demolition. The fields, playgrounds and parking lots at the school will also be resurfaced within the $90 million, which also includes an allowance for any unexpected increases in construction costs.

To fund the project, residents approved a “debt exclusion” to the tax-limiting Proposition 2-1/2 in November. A debt exclusion raises property taxes only for as long as is needed to repay a specific debt and only for as long as is needed to repay the debt. In this case, an increase in taxes will be used to repay $40 million over 20 years.

For those who pay property taxes, that spells an 82-cent increase in annual taxes for each $1,000 of assessed valuation. Someone with a home value of $258,000 – the median figure for a single-family home in Wareham – will see taxes increase $211.56 per year.