Building committee to file plans for new school with state

Formal application follows decision to build a new Tisbury School.

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The building committee is moving closer to filing its application with the Massachusetts School Building Authority to replace the Tisbury School with a new building. — Stacey Rupolo

On Thursday, the Tisbury board of selectmen is meeting at 12:30 pm to sign off on the approved plan for a new Tisbury School.

The decision to build a new three-story structure at 40 West William St. and remove the existing building once the new school is done was approved at a meeting on Monday, June 19. A story published in the June 22 edition of The Times incorrectly reported the outcome of the building committee vote.

At the June 19 building committee meeting, members voted 11-5 in favor of the new construction option.

After the documents are signed by selectmen, the building committee plans to submit the proposal to the Massachusetts School Building Authority for review and anticipated approval by its board of directors in August.

Exact placement of the school on the site will be decided during the schematic design phase. The school building committee is planning to host more public forums during this phase to get more feedback from the community, according to chairman Colleen McAndrews.

This vote follows the decision on June 7 to keep the school at its current location.

The new design will increase the size of the structure and accommodate 21st-century educational approaches, school officials said. The total size of the new building will be about 79,000 square feet. It will be surrounded by about 93,500 square feet of play area.

The overall cost of the project is $44.9 million, with MSBA reimbursing nearly 42 percent of the project costs. This cost includes the feasibility study, project management, architect and engineer design costs, construction costs, and furnishings. The anticipated cost to the town is estimated at $33 million. This price has raised some concerns among town leaders, because Tisbury is currently looking into several other public projects, such as renovations to the senior center and police station, as well as improvements to wastewater and storm drainage, officials said during Monday’s meeting.

There were some suggestions from the public for a four-story school design, with the additional floor either above or below the original structure. However, this design was rejected due to zoning laws, and the fact that it would restrict the collaborative learning goals of the school. The large basement area for classes and student usage was turned down due to its “bunker-like” qualities and limited access to daylight and natural ventilation.

If the MSBA approves the design, its board will vote in December on funding. Once approval of funding and design from the MSBA has been received, the plan will be submitted for approval by the town. The town will then vote for a Proposition 2½ debt exclusion to pay for the town’s portion of the project. If approved, construction is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2019 and could be finished by the summer of 2021, according to Peter Turowski, the building’s architect. However, if the town does not pass the building plan, the project will lose MSBA funding. Up-to-date information about the project can be found on the School Building Committee’s project website at tisbury-school-project.com.