As you may know, in the Spring of 2013 an elementary facilities assessment was conducted by Habeeb & Associates. The study was performed at the district’s request to verify and to provide additional information to an internal review conducted during the 2011-2012 school year. As mapped in the District Improvement Plan, we are working to assess short-term costs of maintaining the two elementary schools as well as working to develop a multi-year budget and a timeline for identifying the long-term options for the elementary schools.
The Habeeb study determined that each of our elementary school buildings has exceeded its useful life and require a plan of action to address the structural and programmatic needs of the district. The annual cost to maintain the Manchester Memorial, built in 1950, and Essex Elementary, constructed in 1958, is expected to increase significantly in the next five years. It is imperative that MERSD formulate a long-term plan to address our declining elementary school facilities in order to responsibly manage costs and to provide students with a safe and environmentally sound learning environment.
The first step in this process is for the School Committee to determine the academic program configuration for the elementary schools. Currently, MERSD utilizes a neighborhood schools model. Under this model, elementary students attend school in their respective towns, which are in close proximity to their homes. One plan under consideration is to unify the elementary schools into one community, beginning in Kindergarten, which is similar to our current Pre-Kindergarten and Middle/High School programs. Under this model Essex and Manchester students would attend school together.
This important policy decision has an impact on students, parents, and the community at large. In order to determine our future course of action, the School Committee has launched a task force/study committee to review the educational implications of the academic program and to gather public input on possible solutions. The goal of the survey was to gather baseline information for the Elementary Facilities Task Force Team in preparation for a series of focus groups with constituents from Essex and Manchester to be conducted throughout October and November.
Click Here For more information about the Task Force Mission and Timeline and to access the Habeeb & Associate Presentation