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School Committee Chooses Firm To Explore Florence Roche Options

by Robert Stewart,


   The School Committee unanimously approved the recommendation of their Selection Committee to hire the firm of Left Field to conduct feasibility studies for the Florence Roche building project and act as management of the project. The School Committee approved a contract with Left Field at the end of March and the company has already begun its work by preparing the steps to be taken to hire a design firm to create schematics for the different options to be studied. The contract calls for a payment of $205,000.

   Left Field and the School Committee plan to advertise for a design firm in June and hope to select one by August with a formal vote scheduled by the School Committee by late summer or early fall. Once the design firm is hired, Left Field will begin its feasibility studies in earnest, which will include evaluating the condition of the Florence Roche Elementary School and identifying the different options to address any deteriorating conditions. The feasibility studies will include: renovating the building, grade reconfiguration within the elementary and middle school grades, rebuilding the building, or an addition on the Middle School.   

   The different options will include cost estimates and educational factors that will be used to evaluate the different scenarios. In an April newsletter to the school community, School Committee Chair Marlena Gilbert wrote that the purpose of the feasibility studies are to “conduct a transparent and thorough feasibility study to identity the most educati0nally and financially advantageous solution for the Florence Roche Elementary Building project.” The feasibility studies will also study the condition of the Swallow/Union school building in Dunstable but will not include that study as part of the Florence Roche building project.

   Dunstable officials have expressed interest in determining the condition of the Swallow/Union building for future reference. Cost of that study has been approved for reimbursement by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) with Dunstable taxpayers assigned the remaining costs. 

   Total cost of the Florence Roche Building project is estimated to be between $25 and $30 million with the state reimbursing Groton for approximately 48 percent of that cost. The feasibility study is expected to take approximately 18 months to complete and Left Field is aiming to conclude its work by October 2020. After the conclusion of the study, the School Committee will decide the best option to address conditions in the Florence Roche building and request funds for the project between fall 2020 and spring 2021. Gilbert noted in the April newsletter that Left Field is recommending that funds be requested at a Special Town Meeting in fall 2020.

   During the feasibility project phase, the School Committee is planning to conduct an extensive community outreach effort to receive public input and thoughts about the study as it progresses. Gilbert indicated that the School Committee will launch a web site devoted to communicating with the public about the study and, when the feasibility study enters the critical phase, public forums will be held to receive comments and thoughts from the public.

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