Monday, March 6, 2017

Memorial School Building Project Update

In the Spring of 2016, MERSD established the Memorial School Building Committee (MSBC) and received support from our communities to enter into a Feasibility Study with the Massachusetts School Building authority (MSBA).  The MSBA provides state matching funds for construction, and an oversight process to promote efficiency and effectiveness of local building projects.  Through the Feasibility process, the MSBC will work to find fiscally responsible, forward-thinking solutions for the Manchester elementary school building that meet the needs of the District’s current and future curriculum program, are mindful of future maintenance and the impact on the environment, serve the school community, and are supported by voters in Manchester and Essex, as well as the MSBA. The Feasibility Study will determine whether to renovate or replace the Memorial School.

As one of its first tasks, the MSBC was charged with identifying an Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) for the upcoming building project.   The OPM, who will be with us for the duration of the project, works to oversee the building process and helps to safeguard the District’s interests.  On March 6th, the MSBA approved Memorial School Building Committee’s recommendation of Dore & Whittier to serve as MERSD’s OPM for the Memorial project.   On March 14th, Dore & Whittier will hold its first meeting with the Memorial Building Committee (MSBC) to begin the planning process for hiring a designer.  That work will take place during April and May should be complete by the end of the fiscal year.   As part of the planning process, we will be looking at a communications plan for providing regular updates to our communities, and preliminary project timelines. 

Understanding that facility needs of Memorial Elementary School have been prioritized by the MSBA process, MERSD has begun to turn its attention to interim measures to extend the useful life of Essex Elementary, which is more than fifty years old, but in better condition than Memorial.  MERSD is currently working with the Town of Essex to leverage Green Community grant funding for potential energy saving improvements that can minimize the annual cost of operations. 

From a maintenance standpoint, Essex Elementary had a number of improvements in 2016.  Most notably, the girls’ locker room was renovated and converted to accommodate two additional learning spaces that are needed to support in-district special education programs.  The new counseling room in the library was also converted from carpet to tile.  The sidewalk in front of the school was re-paved and wheelchair access was enhanced.  The handicap accessible parking space was also improved to provide easier access.  The Eagle’s Nest play scape was completely power washed, sanded, and weatherproofed and all swing chains and hardware have also been upgraded and replaced.   The Essex courtyard underwent an extensive in-house beautification project.  Summer maintenance also included refinishing of the cafeteria and gymnasium floors, re-staining the exterior of the portable classrooms, and painting classrooms and corridors.   

For more information about tMemorial Building Project Background & Process, please visit