Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

August 22, 2013

A look ahead for new year

By Dustin Luca
dluca@andovertownsman.com

---- — Technology isn’t the only area garnering attention in the school district this year. Here’s a look at some other developments:

FINAL YEAR FOR BANCROFT

For every new beginning, there is also an end. That will be the case this year for Bancroft Elementary School.

Students entering Bancroft next week will do so as the final classes to learn in the decades-old, open-concept castle of a facility.

By next fall, the new $50 million Bancroft School will stand ready to greet them.

The new school, being built in front of the existing facility, is currently undergoing “a big milestone to get the building all sealed off,” School Building Committee Chairman Tom Deso said.

The roof is nearly done, and work is under way to install the building’s windows and make the structure air-tight, he said. By February vacation, all that is expected to remain is finish work.

Come the end of the year, the old Bancroft will be taken offline forever, according to Deso.

“As soon as school is out, we start demolition on the existing Bancroft,” he said.

MEAGHER RETURNING TO ANDOVER HIGH

After a year on the sidelines, Andover High School English teacher Jen Meagher is headed back to the classroom.

She was terminated last September after the district deemed an email she sent privately to faculty, urging them to interfere with the school’s reaccreditation process, encouraged a work stoppage by the district. Her firing following a rough end to protracted contract talks between the School Committee and Andover Education Association.

The AEA appealed to the state’s Employment Relations Board, which overturned Meagher’s firing, saying her termination was discrimination.

The School Committee chose not to appeal the state’s decision, and Meagher has announced she will take the job being offered her.

“I’m very excited to be coming back to the Andover High School classrooms,” she said. “I look forward to working with the new principal and getting used to being back.”

LANDSCAPE CHANGING AT DOHERTY

Heavy work is under way at Doherty Middle School as a $2.5 million project to update the campus moves forward ahead of the construction of the Cormier Family Youth Center this fall.

The work at Doherty started just as school got out in June.

But with the tight summer vacation window, there is still work left to be done as students return to class next week, according to acting Plant and Facility Director Ed Ataide.

“There will be some landscaping, there will be some grading, some curbing left to be put in, some railings, things like that,” he said.

A major component of the work has been improving accessibility to the school in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Even though the work won’t be finished, Ataide said there will be no issues getting teachers and students in and out of class on the first day.

“Doherty will not be 100 percent, but it will be safe for students and faculty to get to school,” he said.

WEST MIDDLE WORK WINDING DOWN

A $1.25 million upgrade to West Middle School is also nearing completion, Ataide said.

The project aims to completely replace and overhaul the school’s heating system. While the heating plant won’t be 100 percent when doors open next week, Ataide said the ventilation will be up and running to ensure the school has fresh air in every classroom. The final work will be completed soon.