Wareham School officials tout proposed elementary school’s education plan

Sep 20, 2018

A key vote on funding a new elementary school is set for October. Ahead of that vote, school officials urged residents to review the building’s state-mandated education plan.

On Thursday, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Andrea Schwamb noted the education plan for the proposed school, dubbed the Decas School at Minot Forest, is available for review online.

School officials are seeking to build a new school where Minot Forest Elementary, which was closed at the beginning of the summer, is located now. Officials said the building is beset with a wide range of structural issues. Opened in 1965, the building requires significant upgrades for security, electrical wiring and fire safety. Existing ceilings contain asbestos and the current plumbing system does not meet low-flow or handicap accessibility requirements. Minot would also require extensive foundation work.

The school’s construction cost is an estimated $90.3 million. The Massachusetts School Building Authority is slated to reimburse the town approximately $59.8 million of that cost, which means Wareham would have to pay approximately $39.5 million for the new school.

If the debt exclusion is approved in November it would raise taxes on residents until the debt is repaid. Currently, officials anticipate that the district share of $39.5 million translates to approximately $0.66 – $0.81 of additional tax burden per $1,000 of valuation. That’s roughly $170 – $210 annually for the average single-family home depending on the length of bond.

But first, voters at the Oct. 22 Town Meeting would have to approve placing the debt exclusion on the November ballot. Town Meeting is set to start at 7 p.m. in the Wareham High School auditorium. All registered voters may participate.

Schwamb said the education plan is required by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The plan is designed to inform school designs that are responsive to current teaching and learning practices, according to the authority. Schwamb said Wareham’s plan was developed after a series of public workshops held over the winter.

“The education plan represents the voices of many stakeholders,” said Schwamb. “Although we were designing a school, we considered the needs of many different groups in town during the planning sessions and the plan represents that.”

Chair Joyce Bacchiocchi said during the planning process the building itself was heavily focused on, but it’s important to consider how it will serve students, too.

“It’s important to talk about the education plan,” she said. “Because a lot of times we talk about the building and the rooms.”

To read the results of the workshops and plan, visit newschool.warehamps.org. Click on “Preliminary Design Program Materials.” Information can be read by clicking the bottom link on that page: “Minot Forest Visioning Workshops.”