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$38 Million Proposal: Renovate Fuller; Open Farley as an Elementary School

School Administrators and the Framingham School Committee are considering a plan to renovate Fuller Middle School and the former Farley School, with the goal of opening Farley as an elementary school by 2019 and keeping Fuller as a middle school.

The Framingham School Administrators and the Framingham School Committee are reviewing building options as its student population continues to grow and its buildings continue to need repairs.

Tonight Oct 22 at 7,  the School Committee is meeting with its consultant Bargmann Hendrie Archetype, Inc and will review a demographic and enrollment study conducted by New England School Development Council.

Kindergarten enrollment has been over 700 for the last three years. And as the elementary level enrollment rises, it is expected to bubble at the middle school level starting in 2017.

School leaders have known that serious renovations are needed at Fuller Middle School, the former Framingham South High School.

Earlier this year, they held a tour of both the Fuller Middle School building and the former Farley School building, currently being used as a Framingham campus for Mass Bay Community College. (The college's original lease ends in 2013, but the school plans to extend it for one year to 2014. Gov. Deval Patrick earlier this month announced $22 million for Mass Bay Community College to find a new Framingham Campus.)

One option school leaders are seriously considering is renovating first the Farley and then the Fuller building.

The timeline has:

  • Farley renovations beginning in 2015.
  • Moving Fuller Middle School students to Farley in 2016.
  • Beginning Renovations at Fuller Middle in 2016.
  • Completing Fuller Middle renovations in 2018.
  • Possibly opening Farley as the town's ninth elementary school in 2019.

The estimated price tag for the renovations at the two school buildings, adjacent to each other on Flagg Drive and located across the street from McCarthy Elementary School,  is estimated at $38 million. The Town of Framingham could apply for state funding, which at this time, is estimated at 59.9%, but not all of the renovations would be eligible.

This is a complicated proposal, with a lot of details; thus the School Committee is holding two workshops to review options and details. The finance subcommittee of the Framingham School Committee got a sneak peak of the Fuller-Farley proposal, the needs of the school district and several options at a recent meeting.

Farley, which was original built as a middle school, and is identical in design to the current Barbieri Elementary School, would need some renovations - described as "minimum" by School Business Manager Ed Gotgart, in order for middle school students to temporarily occupy the building.

The cafeteria at Farley is "inadequate" so the recommendation would be to renovate the pool area into a cafetorium and build a kitchen, that could serve both middle and elementary school students. The estimated cost is $3 million.

The Farley roof, which is leaking, needs to be repaired at an estimated $500,000. Farley was built in 1973.

And in order for Farley to later be used as an elementary school, bathrooms would need to be made handicap accessible, at an estimate $500,000 price tag.

Renovations at Fuller Middle are estimated at $33 million. This option, one of three being considered, calls for a partial demolition and a partial renovation of the former Framingham South High School, retaining the cafeteria, gymnasium and auditorium. Also, the entire roof needs to be replaced.

School leaders said Fuller school would be needed even after the Farley school is renovated due to the rising kindergarten enrollments. This year's kindergarten class is 800 students, last year's kindergarten was almost 800 and the year before was more than 700 students.

Middle school students at Fuller need to be moved to Farley while construction is happening at Fuller as there are no other vacant school buildings available for them to move to and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) will not reimburse a community for temporary space, ie rental of another building.

And school leaders said Farley may need to be opened as an elementary school, to deal with the rising enrollments. It is the only school building on the south side of town, where the majority of the school population lives, they pointed out in a presentation.

Another major reason for the possible need of a ninth elementary school is the town's current elementary schools are overcrowded and some have converted non-educational spaces into educational spaces.

Examples include:

  • Hallways and space under stairwells have been converted into breakout instructional space.
  • Closets have been converted into pullout instructional spaces
  • Locker rooms in four schools have been converted into classroom space
  • Mechanical rooms are being sued as offices or instructional areas
  • Custodial storage closets have been converted into one-on-one tutoring areas
  • Dish rooms are used as educational space in three schools

And soon modular classrooms at both Hemenway Elementary and Brophy Elementary are scheduled to be decommissioned. They were installed in 2004.

 

Cheryl Tully Stoll October 22, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Converting Farley to an elementary school makes a great deal of sense. I’ve favored this idea for a few years. It will reduce the amount of time students spend on busses and be more accessible for Southside parents so they can more actively participate in their children's education.
Kerry Dunne October 22, 2012 at 01:38 PM
I totally support the idea of a 9th elementary school, and one with a central or Southside location, but that Farley building would need a TON of work to be an acceptable elementary school. Those open concept brick buildings with no windows built in the early 1970's just are terrible for kids-- bad ventilation, little natural light, high ceilings but small floor space. BUT there is a lot of space around the Fuller/McCarthy/Farley complex, and it might be cheaper to build a new elementary school than renovate a poorly-conceived dinosaur. Farley would be a good admin building or alternative high school campus, though. No matter what, glad to see that Fuller is on the track towards a full rehab/renovation and that the school committee is tackling space issues at the elementary level and working towards a goal of having our elementary school locations match the locations of where elementary students actually live.

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