EASTON — Superintendent Lisha Cabral and School Planning Committee Chair Jane Martin would like to provide an update for parents and residents with the latest news and information on the Blanche A. Ames Elementary School Project.
At a meeting on Wednesday, March 3, the Easton School Planning Committee voted to recommend Brait Builders Corporation of Marshfield as the project’s general contractor. Brait Builders was selected as the lowest eligibleand responsible bidder out of the six total bids submitted to the committee. The recommendation to award the contract to Brait Builders was then authorized by the Easton Select Board on Monday, March 8.
With the execution of the contract, the project is currently under budget. The contract was awarded for $63.6 million, which was approximately 14% below the estimated $74 million allocated for a general contracting bid. An additional estimated $750,000 of the full $74.8 million construction budget is allotted for Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrades, which have not yet been put out to bid.
The building design has also been completed by the design company, Perkins Eastman, and has been approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). The building will include many distinctive design elements that will honor Blanche A. Ames and the history of Easton, as well as engage children’s curiosity and contribute to the physical, academic and social-emotional development of early elementary students.
The design for the interior of the school includes an orchid wall in the cafeteria, a tribute to Blanche Ames. Ames was well-known for her drawings of orchids and contributed greatly to the field of botanical research. Several current Oliver Ames students and recent graduates worked with Perkins Eastman to develop this and other STEAM-related (science, technology, engineering, art and math) elements of the design.
There will be a large cafeteria in the building with a smaller area available for students who may be overwhelmed in larger, more crowded spaces. Designers also worked with the town’s Commission on Disability on accessibility features, and are incorporating a ramp in the center of the school rather than a large staircase to connect the first and second floors.
Outside of the school, there will be a Pre-K playground for the youngest learners and other play structures and play areas for grades K-2. There will also be outdoor teaching spaces and porches on the building that will allow classes to be taught outside in a structured area that is protected from the weather.
The exterior of the building will have a dedicated bus loop that will separate buses from the parent drop-off area. Additional exits from the school property will also be created to help alleviate traffic concerns.
The School Planning Committee is planning a presentation for community members to learn more about many of the building’s design elements. Additional details regarding this meeting will be shared as they are confirmed.
“We are looking forward to sharing many of the unique and exciting design elements with community members,” Superintendent Cabral said. “Our Perkins Eastman team has done a wonderful job designing the future Blanche A. Ames Elementary School to be responsive to how our youngest students learn, as well as incorporate meaningful elements to pay tribute to the town and the school’s namesake.”
With the award of the construction contract, work at the site is expected to begin toward the end of March, followed by an official groundbreaking expected at the beginning of April. Construction on the new building is scheduled to be completed in October 2022. Students, faculty and staff are expected to be in the building at the beginning of 2023, at which time demolition of the old Parkview School will take place from December 2022 to May 2023.
“This is an extraordinary time for our community and I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to this project in so many different ways thus far,” Martin said. “District staff, town staff and community members volunteered their time to attend User Group meetings and provide critically valuable input for the building design; our Project Team has listened carefully to the needs of our community and brought the design of the Blanche A. Ames Elementary School to life; and our district leadership team has carefully balanced the need for thoughtful design with the needs of our littlest learners, along with making the conscious effort to be careful stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
Martin added, “I would also like to thank the residents of Easton who had the vision to vote ‘yes’ for the Override that allows the new Elementary School to be constructed through the MSBA program. The next year will bring many changes at the current Parkview site as construction begins and the new school takes form. I am so excited for our students, educators and community.”