School Building Committee Votes in Unanimous Support of Wheelock School Site as Preferred Project Site
MEDFIELD — Superintendent Jeffrey Marsden and School Building Committee Chair Mike Quinlan would like to provide an update to community members on the Dale Street School Building Project and share information regarding the preferred project site.
At the Board of Selectmen meeting on Sept. 22, the Dale Street School Building Committee (SBC) presented its preferred schematic option for the project. The Dale Street and Wheelock School sites were identified as the two preferred site options out of six available sites in February. The SBC has unanimously voted in support of the Wheelock School site as the preferred project site with the construction of a new building for grades 4-5 as the preferred design alternative.
The SBC’s support for the Wheelock site and grade 4-5 configuration is based on a number of educational benefits that would be a result of this selection. First, whereas the district’s current school layout requires students to transition to a new school every couple of years, a combined campus with the new Dale Street school situated on the same campus as the current Wheelock School would offer a smoother transition between elementary grades. Furthermore, a combined campus will allow for greater flexibility and better opportunities to share staff, resources and programming between grades 2-5. The combined campus will also allow for a better setup for teachers in grades 2-5 and would allow for more frequent and efficient teacher collaboration.
The Wheelock site also provides a number of benefits in regards to space and logistical considerations. A larger site provides more space for future flexibility at either the new Dale building or Wheelock to support the projected growth in Medfield’s student population. In addition, the larger site that Wheelock provides would provide more space for outdoor learning and physical education needs. In addition, the project will include improvements to site circulation, parking and stormwater management at the existing Wheelock School as well as the new school. The larger area that is available at the Wheelock site preserves the open space that is currently adjacent to the Memorial School and Pfaff Building and is used for some school athletics. This space would no longer be open for use if the new school is built at the Dale Street site. Finally, the design supports the use of classroom pods that would support the establishment of small learning communities as part of the education plan.
In contrast, the current Dale Street site would require multiple transitions for younger students between sites and schools, and would not allow for shared staffing or other resources between schools and grades. In addition, the site has limited space for outdoor learning and recreation space, has congested vehicle circulation and limited space for parking, increased traffic along nearby streets and does not offer ample space for future growth or expansion to accommodate growth in Medfield’s student population.
Many of the key Guiding Design Principles identified during the educational visioning sessions held earlier this year also strongly support having the new school building at the Wheelock site rather than the Dale Street site. Smoother transitions, opportunity for growth, space for outdoor learning, the establishment of small learning communities and better space circulation were among the most-supported priorities for the new school during the visioning sessions.
In addition to the benefits outlined above, the construction of a new school for grades 4-5 on the Wheelock site has a current estimated project cost at $77,331,250. This estimated cost takes into account the potential need for the replacement of a water line and traffic improvements at the Wheelock site. This is a lower project cost than an addition or renovation for grades 4-5 at the existing Dale Street site, which is estimated at $80,443,750. It is important to note that these are schematic-level cost estimates, and the costs will be evaluated further in the next phase of the project.
Additional information on the Wheelock site design alternative, including building diagrams, can be found in the full presentation to the Board of Selectmen here.
The full meeting recording can be found here.
Upcoming Opportunities for Public Input
A virtual public forum is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m. Updates on the project will be presented, cost projections will be shared and there will be an opportunity for attendees to ask questions related to the project. This is an open meetings and the public is welcome to attend. Please visit the town website for agendas and virtual meeting links.
If the preferred grade configuration and site selection are approved, the Preferred Schematic Report will be completed and submitted to the MSBA. The submission of a PSR is expected to happen at the end of December. The PSR will then be reviewed by the MSBA and receive a vote. Following approval of the PSR, the preferred option will be further developed in the Schematic Design phase, which will establish the final Project Scope and Budget.
About the Dale Street Project
In December 2017, Dale Street School was accepted into the MSBA Core Program. In this program, MSBA partners with communities to assist in the program development and funding of new school construction or additions/renovations to an existing school.
The Dale Street School was one of 16 schools selected out of the 84 communities that submitted Statements of Interest.
The Statement of Interest for the Dale Street School stated that although the school is functional for learning, the building is approaching the end of its useful life span and needs major improvements to be aligned with standards for 21st century learning. The school is made of structures built in 1942 and 1962, with minor renovations to spaces within the building in 1997 and 2000. In its current state, the building is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and does not have the classroom space that will be necessary for projected future student enrollment.
Boston-based architectural firm Arrowstreet, Inc. was chosen to be the Designer for the project.
For more information, visit the Dale Street School Building Project website here or follow the project page on Facebook. Presentation, meeting recordings and other project materials can also be found on the project website.
Questions about the Dale Street School Project can be sent to [email protected].