AP NEWS

State Approves New School in Tewksbury

March 2, 2019
An artist's rendering of the Tewksbury elementary school project recently approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority for Grades 2 through 4. COURTESY RENDERING Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

TEWKSBURY -- The Massachusetts School Building Authority officially approved the proposed elementary school project in town in a recent unanimous vote.

The project is looking to serve up to around 790 students in grades 2 through 4 in a brand new building on the existing Ryan Elementary School site. Students in those grades from the Dewing, Heath Brook and Trahan schools will attend the new school slated to open for the 2022 school year.

“It obviously is a big step because without the approval, we don’t get any reimbursement from the state,” said Dennis Francis, School Committee member and chair of the Elementary School Building Committee. “It’s really an exciting time.”

The next step in the process is for Tewksbury residents to vote on whether or not to authorize a debt exclusion for the project during the April 6 Annual Town Election.

If that is approved, residents will vote to appropriate the money for the project at the Annual Town Meeting on May 6.

The total cost of construction for the project, which also includes a new athletic field, is estimated at $98.5 million. Out of that number, $39,869,920 is considered non-reimbursable by the MSBA, according to Francis. The maximum grant the MSBA can issue to Tewksbury is $32,736,619, accounting for 58.7 percent of what’s eligible for reimbursement. The total cost to the town is estimated to be $65,767,105, Francis said.

The highest potential tax burden to the residents, based on the average value of a single-family home in Tewksbury, is $449 per household, Francis said.

“That number will continue to be tweaked and that will probably be the maximum number,” he said.

Francis said they will be working to achieve extra points with the design and construction of the school, like making the building green, to help set up the town for receiving the maximum reimbursement from the MSBA.

“It’s exciting. It’s something that needs to happen,” Francis said of the project.

There have been about a dozen community forums held on the project, which focus on updates on the progress and allow for residents to have their questions and concerns addressed. Below are the four upcoming community forums on the project:

* March 5, 7 p.m., Senior Center (175 Chandler St.)

* March 9, 10 a.m., Tewksbury Public Library (300 Chandler St.)

* March 11, 7 p.m., Town Hall (1009 Main St.)

* March 14, 7 p.m., Dewing School (1469 Andover St.)

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.