TEWKSBURY -- A new, state-of-the-art elementary school is scheduled to open its doors in town in 2022, if all goes as planned.
Right now, the project plan for a school serving second through fourth grades is in the schematic design phase with the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
"This an ambitious project, but I'm quite confident between the designer and (owner's project manager) in terms of where we are right now and how we'll continue with the design process," said Dennis Francis, School Committee member and chair of the Elementary School Building Committee. "We're in an excellent place right now."
The plan is to have an elementary school serving about 790 students. The school is set to be constructed on the Ryan School site. When the school is finally constructed, students from the Dewing, Heathbrook, Trahan and North Street Schools will attend.
The Flansburgh Architects and project manager Heery International are involved in the project.
"The goal is by the end of (this) month to establish the full project scope, schedule and budget," Francis said.
By Dec. 14, Francis said they plan to have the total construction cost estimate for the project. On Jan. 2, they plan to present that full project scope, schedule and budget to the MSBA. On Feb. 13, they will be considered for project approval.
Over the months of preparation and planning for this new school, the Elementary School Building Committee has held a number of community forums to inform the public on the process and get their feedback. Francis said they are working on buffer zones for residents who live nearby the proposed construction site. Things like air conditioning within the building and security have also been a priority for residents and school staff.
"We're really trying to push the architect to design this, not ready for current technology, but really to design it for technology we can anticipate using 10, 15, 20 years from now," said Superintendent Christopher Malone. "The benefit of doing this is we brought in some significant technology-based security systems to the district and we'll be able to design this from scratch.
"We firmly believe that technology used to keep schools safe will continue to improve," he continued. "We want to make sure we have an adaptable design for technology of the future."
Making the needs of special education students a priority has also been an important topic in the design discussions. Malone said the current elementary schools, which were built in the 1950s, were not designed with those students in mind. The new building will offer space for physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language services and more. Proximity to entrances, emergency exits, elevators and more for students with physical disabilities are being discussed for the design of the building.
Malone said they also plan to make the building energy efficient and environmentally friendly, which will also better their chances for higher reimbursement from the MSBA.
If everything goes according to plan, residents will vote on the project in the form of a ballot question during next April's Annual Town Election. If that succeeds, the project will also become a warrant article at the May Town Meeting.
The next community forum on the project is set for Thursday at Town Hall at 6 p.m.
The plan for a new elementary school in Tewksbury is set on the Ryan School site, off Pleasant Street. Plan Key:
1. New Addition/ Construction
2. Existing Building/Ryan School
3. Parent drop off
4. Bus drop off
5. Playing field
6. Playground 7. Parking
8. New football stadium
9. Central Office/Demolished