Why is the town potentially taking on another school building project right now?

The Gerry School building is in critical need of attention. In 2006, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) first identified the Gerry School as a Category 4 school (the lowest possible score) indicating the need for repair or replacement. Today, 10 years later, it remains one of 23 schools in the state with this ranking. The buildings issues span from a dying boiler to a leaking roof to opaque windows that must be propped to open to uneven stairs leading to the entrance. These issues, among others, can no longer be fixed without a significant investment.

Each day we wait to take action, we risk not only forgoing state money to offset any project costs, but we risk the school becoming unusable. If the building loses viability, staff and students must be moved to a temporary site, triggering additional "band-aid" costs such as moving expenses, busing costs, and technology installment expenses.

What does it mean the Gerry School building is a Category 4?
According to the MSBA's 2010 Needs Survey Report, a Category 4 school's general physical environment is "poor" and "many conditions present obstacles to learning and teaching."

To read more about the specific state of the Gerry as detailed in our 2015 Statement of Interest, please see pages 16 and 17.

What is a feasibility study?
The Gerry School feasibility study is a requirement of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in order to qualify for state-funded reimbursement for any future building project. It is the first step in determining the long-term solution for the school.

Who conducts the feasibility study?
The feasibility study is completed by a designer architect under the management of an Owner's Project Manager (OPM) hired by and in collaboration with the School Building Committee (SBC).

Who makes up the School Building Committee?
The SBC is required by the MSBA to be made up of town representatives with backgrounds from construction, architecture, landscape and education as well as the town administrator, the district superintendent of schools, a school committee member, the school principal, district schools' facility management director, at least one teacher from the school, a member of the finance committee or local budget official, and a representative from an office authorized by law to construct school buildings.

What is included in a feasibility study?
The study includes but is not limited to an in-depth analysis of the current electrical, mechanical, structural, safety, code compliance, building envelope, energy management, enrollment and educational programming/curriculum needs of the school, as well as the conceptual and schematic designs and drawings for the solution determined to be most feasible.

How long will the feasibility study take?
The in-depth analysis of the current condition of the school as outlined in response to the above question will take approximately 6-9 months. Upon completion of the first phase, the SBC, OPM and Designer Architect will work with the MSBA on determining the long-term solution for the school. The second phase of the study will include the conceptual and schematic designs and drawings for the solution selected and will take an additional 6 to 12 months. The total length of time for the study being 12-24 months.

How much will the feasibility study cost?
The feasibility study is estimated to cost up to $750,000. The MSBA will reimburse the town 32.47% of the cost of the study. For the average Marblehead household (with a median value of $545,000), the cost of the feasibility study would be $11.16 per year for 5 years.

$750,000 sounds like a lot of money for a study.
Although it is called a study it is a comprehensive plan, and a necessary investment to unlock state funds, for the best solution for the Gerry School.

The budget for the feasibility study is based on the MSBA's recommendation to develop a budget based on comps from other districts who have recently undergone a similar study.Additionally in the MSBA program, the feasibility phase results in progressing much further along in the design process than previous feasibility studies. For complete details on the steps and deliverables for the current feasibility process please visit the MSBA website.

At the end of the study, both the town and the MSBA should have a clear view of the most cost-effective and educationally sound solution to the Gerry School's facility issues.

Why do we need to do something about the building when the staff is providing a great education for children there already?
The teachers and staff at the Gerry School have done an amazing job educating our students despite the conditions of the building. And while we recognize that the most important elements in carrying out our educational mission are the people inside the building, the physical environment cannot be overlooked. Imagine what the Gerry staff could accomplish in a 21st century facility.

Why don't we just repair the Gerry School?
Repairing the school will certainly be considered as part of the feasibility study.

What about the Coffin School?
Just as the Glover/Eveleth Schools were successfully combined into one new school, the feasibility study will look at and possibility recommend as an option a similar combination of the Gerry/Coffin neighborhood school populations, situated on one site, as the best educational and economic solution for the district.

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