Editor, Townsman:

In January 2016, the town of Andover along with the Andover Public Schools contracted with MGT of America Consulting to evaluate the condition of every district building and develop a master plan to address school facility needs.

Following this study, the School Committee did further research and gathered community input through surveys, tours and forums to form priorities. In December 2016, the School Committee identified West Elementary as its top building improvement priority based on the overcrowding and the numerous facility deficiencies that can have a negative impact on student outcomes.

West Elementary was invited into the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s eligibility phase in December 2017. The School Committee approved creation of the West Elementary School Building Committee shortly thereafter, and this committee has worked conscientiously over the last three years to follow the authority's prescriptive process.

The Building Committee decided that the construction of a new school, with a preschool wing (addressing another top facility need), created the most cost-effective way to address two problem facilities in support of high-quality education services for the next 50 years.

Successful participation in the Massachusetts School Building Authority's program provides access to a $38 million state grant toward the full project cost.

The project scope and funding was approved on April 14 by the authority, pending approval of the project scope and funding by the Andover community at town meeting on June 5 (a two-thirds vote is required) and again at the ballot box on June 15.

The quality of education in a community has a direct impact on the attractiveness of the community. A new West El and Shawsheen campus is a critical investment to ease overcrowding, ensure sufficient space for rigorous educational programming, and provide the physical conditions that support high-quality learning.

With other school facilities identified in the 2016 study as deficient, this project is a key strategic step toward addressing our identified school facility needs.

Our children are counting on us to secure these votes and move our educational programming forward with these fundamental new facilities. We hope your readers will join us in voting "yes" on June 5 and June 15.

Susan McCready

on behalf of the

Andover School Committee

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