State approves Wareham school building project

Jun 28, 2018

Plans for a proposed $90 million school, which would replace Minot Forest Elementary, will soon be getting more detailed following approval from the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s board of directors on Wednesday, June 27.

The state authority helps fund public school renovations and new construction. On Wednesday, members moved the project into the “schematic design phase.”

In this phase, the Massachusetts School Building Authority and Wareham Public Schools officials will work to draft detailed designs for the potential project.

Currently, draft plans call for constructing a 159,100 square foot building for students in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade to replace Minot Forest and Decas Elementary Schools. The building would be located where Minot Forest is located now.

“Thanks to our collaborative work with local officials, we are working to build a 21st century educational facility that will provide Wareham students with a top-notch learning environment,” said State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg.

The new school is needed to replace Minot, which is beset with structural problems and requires significant upgrades for security, electrical wiring and fire safety.

Plans call for completing a design in time for voters to consider approving a debt exclusion at the October 2018 Town Meeting. If approved, Wareham voters would 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.

At April Town Meeting in 2017, voters approved the borrowing of $1 million to fund a feasibility study. The feasibility study explored different options for revamping the school and is a requirement of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which will reimburse the town approximately $56 million for the project’s construction cost. The town will have to pay approximately $39 million.