SPECIAL COVERAGE ON THE CORONAVIRUS
Hingham hopes to enter next phase for Foster School project
By: Greg Lane, Hingham Current Staff, December 3, 2020 | Updated: December 9, 2020
William L. Foster School on Downer Avenue in the Crow Point neighborhood | Hingham Current photo
The Massachusetts School Building Authority meets on December 16, and Hingham officials hope the MSBA invites the town to move forward with the feasibility study for the Foster Elementary School building project.
The School Building Committee voted unanimously in October to appropriate feasibility study funds for services including designer and project manager, which may be reimbursed by the MSBA. A feasibility study is a key requirement of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (“MSBA”) Core program and serves as a guide to future decisions regarding the school. By votes of the 2017 and 2020 Annual Town Meeting, a total of $1.1 million was approved for the study.
Many parents in the community said this is a good time for the town to be entering into the project with the MSBA because more space was needed at Foster, which opened in 1951 and is in poor condition, to get elementary students back full time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“About eight classrooms at Foster could not be used during the pandemic because of inadequate ventilation and physical layout,” said Austin in a recent Boston Globe interview.
Last December, the MSBA voted to invite Foster Elementary School into the state’s Eligibility Period. During the 270-day Eligibility Period, the MSBA worked with school officials to determine the District’s financial and community readiness to enter the MSBA Capital Pipeline. The School Building Committee completed preliminary requirements pertaining to local approval and formation of a local school building committee. Upon the timely and successful completion of the Eligibility Period requirements, Foster Elementary School became eligible for an invitation into the Feasibility Study phase of the MSBA Capital Pipeline, subject to a vote of the Board of Directors.
Chart of the Massachusetts School Building Authority Approval Process from the authority's website.
The Feasibility Study phase of the MSBA pipeline will carefully examine potential solutions to the issues identified at Foster Elementary School and will help the town develop the most cost effective plan to address those issues. The school serves more than 480 students, and was last renovated in 2008.
The MSBA partners with Massachusetts communities to support the design and construction of educationally appropriate, flexible, sustainable and cost-effective public school facilities. Since its 2004 inception, the Authority has made over 1,750 site visits to more than 250 school districts as part of its due diligence process and has made over $14.1 billion in reimbursements for school construction projects.
Hingham has tried twice before — in April of 2017 and 2018 — to get MSBA approval for the Foster. School officials began talking in 2006 about replacing the 68-year-old school, which has about 480 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, saying it was too small and plagued by problems with the physical plant.
Those who would like to participate in the meeting, please visit the MSBA website at https://www.massschoolbuildings.org/
to find meeting instructions.