Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


July 14, 2011

Town eyes building new pre-K school

Would lead to closing of Shawsheen School

Andover officials plan to consider closing the Shawsheen School and building a new, all-town, 150-student prekindergarten building.

North Andover opened a $4 million modular, steel-and-concrete "early childhood center" in 2009 that could serve as one option for Andover's prekindergarten building, according to School Committee member Dennis Forgue. It will be up to a school building committee to look at that and other options, and make a recommendation to the School Committee and voters, he said.

"We are at that stage where they want to look at what to do with the preK population, where it should be housed and all of that," said Paula Colby-Clements, vice-chairwoman of the School Committee. "They are going to look at everything."

Shawsheen School is a prekindergarten to grade two school on Magnolia Avenue that attracts students from all over town. After the new Bancroft Elementary School is built, Shawsheen's K-2 students will return to their neighborhood elementary schools and the system will be redistricted. That is expected to take place as early as the fall of 2014, according to Forgue.

The decision to build a new prekindergarten facility would empty the Shawsheen School, leaving Town Manager Buzz Stapczynski with the task of finding a new use for the building. While the School Committee hopes to look at options for where to put its preK population, Stapczynski said the future use of the building — if it is to be emptied — is his priority.

"The School Committee has to come up with what they want to do," Stapczynski said. "Once that is decided, then I can pick up what I want to do."

What happens to Shawsheen's prekindergarten students remains to be seen. Originally, the new Bancroft School would have been large enough to house the students. When officials decided to reduce to 680 students the size of the new Bancroft School, "that decision left the pre-K population at Shawsheen unaddressed," Forgue said.

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