Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Opinion

January 17, 2013

Letter: Bancroft money unfortunate but necessary

Editor, Townsman:

In 2010 the town of Andover approved a project-funding agreement for construction of the new Bancroft Elementary School. Costs included over $16 million in reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), and there was expectation that construction would begin in a timely manner. Since then, nearly a year-long project stoppage was caused by abutter lawsuits, and during that time construction-market conditions changed significantly.

We are now approximately 20 percent of the way through construction, with the foundation complete and steel beams in place, but recent construction bids show we need additional funds to complete the project. Even after a downward budget revision of $3.5 million in value engineering, costs are higher than anticipated in 2010. We cannot strip any more from the school program without losing MSBA reimbursement.

The reasons we, as a town, originally voted to fund construction of a new school have not gone away. The current Bancroft structure, built in 1969, is an operational burden to the town, costing far more to run and keep safe than any other elementary school in our district. Moving Bancroft kids to other town schools would cause overcrowding, but the current building is failing structurally and not sustainable. Building a new school made the most economic and academic sense for the entire town in 2010, and that has not changed.

We remain in a situation where we either pay for a Bancroft school solution now or pay more for a solution later. We now know this one-year delay in construction has cost us $5.81 million. If we do not pass the warrant for additional funds at the Andover Special Town Meeting in February, the number will rise to a request of $6.98 million at the regularly scheduled annual Town Meeting in April, and costs will only continue to rise with further delay.

It is unfortunate and disappointing that we need to request more money from the town of Andover and its taxpayers. However, no other option makes financial sense or brings us closer to a solution for the current Bancroft school deficiency.

Please join us in voting YES for additional funding for Bancroft at the Andover Special Town Meeting on Feb. 11 so that we can continue construction of the new Bancroft Elementary School and maintain Andover Public Schools as an asset to our community.

Lisa Grecoe

Chestnut Street

Bancroft School PTO president

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