BILLERICA -- Hours after the superintendent talked about the age of the high school at graduation, the district moved closer to a new one.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority has approved Billerica Memorial High School to conduct a feasibility study, moving the high-school project into the capital pipeline and marking the first commitment of funding from the MSBA.

"This is very exciting for us," said Superintendent of Schools Tim Piwowar, shortly after leaving the MSBA board meeting in Boston on Wednesday. "It's really a monumental step forward in the MSBA process because it's the first time the MSBA has committed funding to the town.

"This is when the real work begins," Piwowar added.

The next major steps in the process are for the High School Building Committee to hire an Owners' Project Manager, followed by a designer/architect to lead the work of the feasibility study.

The goal of the study is to identify the most cost-effective, educationally-appropriate solution for the high school before moving into schematic design, according to Piwowar.

"We need to look at whether we want a new construction or a renovation, what should the grade span be, and where it should be located," he said.

"What's so critical during the next timeframe is making sure we are constantly seeking feedback from the community as a whole," Piwowar added.

During the 2013 fall Town Meeting, representatives approved $2 million for the high-school feasibility study and schematic design. Because of Wednesday's approval, the MSBA would reimburse Billerica by about 52 percent. If there's money left over, it will be used for the overall cost of the project.

Billerica voters might decide on a new high school in fall 2015 if the following steps go according to plan.

In addition, Piwowar thanked the team at the MSBA and the members of the High School Building Committee, the School Committee, and the Board of Selectmen for "their cooperation in moving us forward."

"I also want to give special recognition to John Curran, our town manager," Piwowar said. "Without John's leadership and commitment to this project, today would not have been possible."

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter and Tout @rsobeyLSun.