Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

January 31, 2013

Study pitch would investigate overcrowding

High School, Shawsheen targeted in $225,000 study

The school department hopes that $225,000 in studies will give it the insight it needs to address high school overcrowding and create a townwide preschool.

Superintendent Marinel McGrath has filed a warrant article for this spring’s Annual Town Meeting asking residents to appropriate the money.

The request is three-fold, she said. First, the department would conduct a space study and create a conceptual design for Andover High School that would “delineate short- and long-term space options to realize additional classroom space” in the crowded school.

A second study would look at creating an Early Childhood Center, a facility designed for preschool-aged children. Officials have been considering such a center in recent years as the town anticipates closing Shawsheen School and reallocating its students, which would displace the school’s pre-kindergarten students.

The final portion of the money would go toward studying “the possibilities for elementary expansion due to enrollment increases across the district,” McGrath said.

HIGH SCHOOL: SPACE IN SHORT SUPPLY

Residents and officials have long applauded Andover for its strength in public schools, but they’ve often recognized a drawback to that: more families moving in, causing greater financial strain.

Bancroft Elementary School was designed with that in mind. The replacement building being built today is designed to educate 200 more students than the current structure.

But as the town addresses a $5.7 million budget gap on the project at next month’s Special Town Meeting, Andover High School Principal Chris Lord said his building is in desperate need of an expansion.

Andover High currently serves a few hundred students beyond what it was designed for, Lord said, and more are coming next year.

“We have terrific overcrowding in the classes,” he said. “Our No. 1 goal in the next year is personalization, and we’re going to be reducing class sizes. We’re going to be struggling to find places to put students and a teacher.”

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