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Newton School Committee Discusses Future Angier Size, Swing Space

The Massachusetts School Building Authority has made recommendations on how large the new Angier Elementary School should be.

A new Angier Elementary School could house as many as 465 students in 24 full size classrooms, according to a recommendation from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).

However, those numbers are not necessarily set in stone. 

"It's a framework and we can't stray too far...but there's a willingness from the MSBA to massage [the numbers]," said City Project Manager Alex Valcarce. 

Last night the School Committee signed off on a letter from the MSBA that includes size recommendations for a future Angier Elementary. Signing off on the letter is another step in . 

The discussion about the school's size began during an enrollment conference with the MSBA earlier this month. During that meeting, Deputy Superintendent/Chief Administrative Officer Sandy Guryan, School Committee member Jonathan Yeo and Valcarce met with MSBA officials and presented projected enrollment numbers for Newton. 

With the recommended numbers, Valcarce said the school would be an estimated 74,000 square feet. The school is currently 52,000 square feet. 

Despite the larger size, Valcarce said a 74,000-square-foot building is "feasible" for the school's current location. The MSBA, he added, understands the "restricted" size of the Angier site. 

Guryan also explained to the committee that the district will have to have a class size discussion with the MSBA before deciding on any final numbers.

The committee and administration will also have to consider the number of regular classrooms and special education classrooms, Guryan added.

The district is currently applying for a program that would involve a partnership between Newton and the MSBA to rebuild the 90-year-old Angier Elementary School. Last month, for the rebuilding of the Waban-based school. 

Several documents, including proof of the feasibility study funding and a detailed maintenance report, have been submitted to the MSBA. With the committee's signature on the recent school size letter, the district is hoping the project will be considered during the MSBA's March 28 meeting.

Swing space

The former Carr Elementary School—now known as the —is the best option for student "swing space" during the Angier rebuilding project, according to city officials.

The former school would undergo renovations and act as a replacement elementary school while Angier is under construction.

"Carr is the most cost-effective source for swing space in the short and long term," Mayor Setti Warren said last night. "We're going to be involved with school renovations for a number of years beyond the Angier School [and] we need to have swing space that can accommodate those renovations."

According to Public Building Commissioner Stephanie Gilman, the city looked at options to buy or lease other space in the city, rather than use the Carr School. However, since the city already owns the Carr building, Gilman said it is the better option from a financial standpoint. 

"To me it makes sense to use the building that we own rather than investing in something we don’t currently own," Gilman said.

The Carr School is currently 51,400 square feet and made up of 18-20 classrooms. Gilman said this size building could fit the swing space needs of Angier as well as , and , which are locations for possible future renovation projects. 

Renovations to Carr, which will total roughly $8-$10 million, will include exterior work as well as upgrades to plumbing, handicap accessibility and sprinkler/fire alarm systems. The renovations would be done before the start of school in September 2014. 

"This is the best choice for the city from a cost standpoint and a programmatic standpoint," Warren said.

The city also looked at the former Aquinas College space at 15 Walnut Park, Gilman said. That area is much larger—roughly 94,000 square feet—and does not include a gym. Although the building is in fairly good condition, there is a "significant cost" to purchase the property.

One drawback to using the Carr building is that the city will have to find new space for the tenants currently occupying the cultural center. 

The city has already started to take steps to transfer the custody of the Carr building from the Parks & Recreation Department to another City Department, according to a memo from Parks & Recreation Commissioner Bob DeRubeis. 

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