The School Committee discussed several options to address growing enrollment in Lexington Public Schools with a focus on overcrowding at the preschool (housed at Harrington Elementary), Fiske, Bridge and Bowman. The School Committee voted unanimously to request that selectman call a special Town Meeting in January to ask for funds to install up to two modular classrooms at each of the following elementary schools: Bridge, Bowman, and Fiske. Architects estimate the total cost of the proposed modulars to be about $2.4 million. The goal would be to have these modulars in place in time for the start of the 2015-2016 school year.
The School Committee identified the following reasons for their selection of temporary modulars:
- They are a relief valve for overcrowding that could be applied in the immediate-term
- They help to keep normal sized classrooms
- They preserve the integrity of art, music, gym and library spaces
- They are temporary and will not foreclose long-term strategies to address overcrowding.
The School Committee also discussed other options for handling growing enrollment numbers, including redistricting and/or moving part or whole of the preschool program currently housed at Harrington Elementary School to the “old Harrington” school which currently houses Central Administration offices. While estimates for moving the preschool were discussed at the meeting, no decision was made on this option, and no funds will be requested at the special January town meeting.
The School Committee is working with an outside consulting group, SMMA (Symmes, Maini, and McKee Associates) to help them assess capacity of Lexington Public schools (preschool, elementary, middle school, and high school) and provide options for increasing space. SSMA has completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 of their work, and all documents and recommendations completed by SMMA and reviewed at the November 2 School Committee meeting and can be found in the School Committee packet at: http://lps.lexingtonma.org/cms/lib2/MA01001631/Centricity/Domain/231/3Nov14SCAgendaPacket.pdf
Phase 3 of SMMA’s work will address longer term solutions for addressing growing student enrollment and space constraints. The School Committee expects to have a report from SMMA in January 2015 to address longer term solutions.
A rebuild or renovation of Hastings will play a key role in addressing overcrowding. Lexington is awaiting a decision from the MSBA (Massachusetts School Building Authority) on whether the town will receive state funds for this project. A decision should be made in December (next month). Several School Committee members voiced their support for a either rebuilding or renovating Hastings regardless of the MSBA decision, which would require approval of funds from the town.
You can view the meeting in its entirety on LexMedia at http://www.lexmedia.org/ondemand.html (select School Committee from the Playlists section).