Yarmouth panel proposes $32M in school renovations

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 1

YARMOUTH — Renovations may be on the horizon for three town schools.

Superintendent of Schools Andrew Dolloff said the driving force behind the conversation is an increase in enrollment of almost 200 students over the past five years. 

In a study done by Wandell Consulting in February, schools are projected to see an increase of more than 350 more students in the next decade. 

Dollof said the rapid increase in enrollment correlates with an increase in housing, economic development, and the birth rate.

Although the ad hoc School Facilities Committee – made up of residents, School Committee members, district administration, and engineering consultant Dan Cecil of Harriman Architectural Engineers – was considering seven options, it narrowed its preference down to Option Four, which suggests changes to William H. Rowe School, Yarmouth Elementary School and Yarmouth High School at a cost of just under $32 million. 

The conceptual plan would expand Rowe School and Yarmouth High School, and renovate and expand Yarmouth Elementary School. Harrison Middle School would remain the same physically, but fifth-graders would attend YES instead of Harrison. 

YES needs the most work, according to the committee. Unlike the other three schools – all of which have been renovated in the past 15 or 20 years – it has not been upgraded since it was built in the 1960s. 

Still, Dollof said it would be less expensive to renovate the school than completely rebuild it.

“(YES) would get a complete face-lift, inside and out,” Dollof said. “We’ve seen the work (Harriman) has done and are confident it can be done.”

Although the district does not include pre-K, the expansion of Rowe would accommodate it at Rowe School.

“In the future, we’re likely to have pre-K (and) we need to prepare for that,” Dollof said. 

According to the most recent draft of Option Four, pre-K would likely add 60 students to Rowe School and require two additional classrooms. Four more classrooms would be added for kindergarten and first grade. 

Expansion and renovation of YES – which would house second through fifth grade – would include the addition of 14 classrooms, a new gym, and a new music room. 

Although YHS would remain ninth through 12th grade, renovations would include eight additional classrooms, a new fitness room and band room, and expansion of the cafeteria and a flex room. 

The seventh option was added to the list of possibilities in September when it became apparent that several municipal departments – including community services and public safety – are in need of larger or renovated space.

It involved the re-purposing of Rowe School for community/municipal use, expansion and complete renovation of Yarmouth Elementary School to provide space for an additional pre-K through fifth-grade population, minor construction at Harrison Middle School, and additions to Yarmouth High School.

On Oct. 16, it was decided at a meeting between the School Committee and Town Council that Rowe School was larger than the town would require and the cost to replace it would be prohibitive. 

The School Facilities Committee will meet throughout the fall and winter to prepare for two rounds of public forums to discuss Option Four; the first will be held Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in the Harrison Middle School cafeteria. The School Committee will receive updates from the Facilities Committee throughout the process. 

Dollof said he anticipates an updated plan going to a referendum vote next November. 

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

Students funnel through the Yarmouth Elementary School cafeteria – which doubles as a gym – on Nov. 6. A plan for updates to several town schools calls for a new, separate gym and renovations to the elementary school cafeteria. 

William H. Rowe School is one of Yarmouth schools that could have major renovations if approved by voters next year. An expansion of Rowe – which currently serves kindergarten through first grade – would accommodate the district’s need for pre-K.

1