Architects presented five design options for renovation and expansion of the Tisbury School this week, ranging from $43 million to $45 million.
At a meeting Tuesday that marked the conclusion of a feasibility study phase, town selectmen, school officials, planning board members, school advisory committee members and teachers discussed the growing need for an adequate facility and how to move forward with the plans. Architect Jorge Cruz from Flansburgh Architects outlined five options, which included renovating and adding to the existing school, demolishing and rebuilding at the existing site, and building a new school on a new site.
Primary needs at the current school include a new roof, insulation and windows, as well as additional classroom space, said school principal John Custer.
During a tour of the 1929 building the day after the meeting, Mr. Custer, who attended school there himself, noted his concerns for both the deteriorating condition and limited size of the building.
“I graduated in 1984 from here, and the educational expectations were different,” he said. “Trying to educate students as we are expected to in this building is becoming tougher.”
An addition was put on in 1995. Today chipped paint, worn carpets and water damage from leaky ceilings are telltale signs of deferred maintenance.
The special education classrooms are housed outside in what was meant to be a temporary trailer. With kindergarten enrollment on the rise, Mr. Custer said there is no room for expanding class size. The kindergarten class has 44 students this year.
The school has been cited more than once through the years for academic excellence.
The plans for a new school have been under discussion since last September, when a facility needs committee was formed.
“It’s not just to address the concerns of the condition of the building, but to meet educational needs going forward,” Mr. Custer said.
At the annual town meeting in April, voters approved $40,000 for a comprehensive feasibility study to determine the needs and costs for a new school building.
Architectural engineers assessed the building’s condition in August. The architectural firm then developed designs based on the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) guidelines and comment from school officials and committee members. On Tuesday Mr. Cruz said the school could expect to be reimbursed for about half the cost of a new school based on factors that include income and poverty levels.
Using the MSBA guidelines and projected enrollment of 386 students by the New England School Development Councils, architects sketched an 87,000-square-foot building, 36,000 square feet larger than the current school.
The design options are a starting point for the school to set priorities and plan, Mr. Cruz said. To qualify for reimbursement from the state, the school would submit a statement of interest with a design plan and budget. It would then cost the town $600,000 to receive a schematic design from the state.
“This is information to help you make a statement of interest to the state,” said Mr. Cruz. “To know your options, costs, know you are lacking educational space right now, know that all the properties outside this site need regulatory action. You have a good story to tell in the statement of interest. You want to show how needy you are. We need this. We can’t deliver education. We have five lunch periods. We have a gymnasium-auditorium that doesn’t work for either [purpose].”
After the presentation, the group discussed how to move forward.
“We are making a decision in a vacuum if we just do it from the school’s point of view,” said John Packer, a member of the facility needs committee.
“It’s important to bring people from out of that sphere,” agreed selectman Tristan Israel. “If you bring us along, we might make the process more difficult, but there will be less surprises and more people on board with what is going on.”
He added: “We all recognize that the school is the next major priority in the community.”
The Tisbury school committee will meet next Tuesday to further discuss the next steps.