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Crocker Elementary Renovation Project on Track

February 1, 2019

FITCHBURG -- A project kickoff with the Massachusetts School Building Authority and visioning sessions are the latest steps completed for the Crocker Elementary School renovation project to keep it on track to submit preliminary designs and schematics by the summer.

“We’re moving along with forward motion ... and getting things done,” said School Committee Vice Chairman Peter Stephens.

The MSBA was in Fitchburg Tuesday to meet with the project team and school officials to talk about goals, a timeline for construction, and procedures for the Crocker project.

That meeting included a tour of the school for the MSBA, Stephens said.

About two weeks ago, members of the school community and city leaders came for visioning sessions with an educational consultant to talk about what kind of building Crocker should have.

Acting Superintendent Bob Jokela said the feedback from the sessions will help to draft an educational plan that lays out the school’s model and philosophy rather. It is due to the MSBA in about three weeks.

That information will also be given to the project designer, Saam Architecture, to start creating preliminary designs, he said.

Attendees talked about potential configurations for a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade campus that could be organized into pods grouped by grade level or one that is pre-K through fourth grade, Stephens said.

“We’ve got the space there at Crocker,” he said.

The School Department will review school configuration options and later the Crocker Elementary School Building Committee will recommend the best option to the full School Committee.

By the end of August, the MSBA will approve the preferred solution and the design phase will begin, according to Colliers International, the project manager.

Crocker has been closed for a year since a steam pipe burst and damaged ceiling tiles that contain asbestos, sending students to the former St. Anthony’s School and Lunenburg’s former T.C. Passios Elementary School.

The Fitchburg school opened 55 years ago and hasn’t been renovated since 1990, according to the MSBA.

Estimated costs for the building project are between $50 million and 60 million, according to a September request for proposals for a feasibility study carried out by the city.

The project is eligible for an 80 percent reimbursement from the MSBA, meaning the city would need to fund up to $12 million, Stephens said. That money will likely come through bonds, he said.

Follow Mina on Twitter @mlcorpuz.

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