Wareham Elementary Building Committee provides update on $90 million project

Sep 06

Members of the Elementary Building Committee went before the Wareham School Committee on Thursday, Sept. 6 to provide an update on plans for a $90 million school which would replace an aging Minot Forest and Decas Elementary.

Members stated that the new building would combat overcrowding by creating space for 1,020 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. The school would also feature an additional five classrooms to accommodate 80 preschool students. Dedicated spaces for the arts and Wareham’s STEAM program were also announced. 

“A lot of ideas have been brought to the table,” said Minot Forest Elementary School Principal Joan Seamans. 

Minot, which is beset with a wide range of structural issues, was closed back in June as a cost saving measure. The 50-year-old building requires significant upgrades for security, electrical wiring and fire safety as well as new windows, ceilings and floors. The estimated cost of repairing both Minot Forest and Decas Elementary five years from now is $74 million.

Voters approved the borrowing of $1 million to fund a feasibility study for the new school at the April 2017 Town Meeting. The feasibility study explored different options for revamping the school and is a requirement of the Massachusetts School Building Authority which is set to reimburse the town approximately $59.8 million for the project’s construction cost. This means that Wareham would have to pay approximately $39.5 million for the new school.

Plans call for completing a design in time for voters to consider approving a debt exclusion at the October 2018 Town Meeting. Current draft plans call for constructing a 159,100 square foot building where Minot Forest is located now and can be viewed here.

If approved, voters would then have to OK funding the school during the state's Nov. 6 election as a ballot question. The debt exclusion would raise taxes on residents to pay for the project for the life of the debt.

“These are essential things that we need and our students deserve,” said School Committe Member Micheal Flaherty. “It shouldn’t be too much to ask for the basics.”

Additional information on the Elementary School Building project can be found online at newschool.warehamps.org