Fight To Rebuild Ipswich & Triton School Buildings

Tuesday December 26, 2023

REGIONAL – The superintendents of Ipswich and Triton schools were disappointed that the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) did not invite their districts this year to apply for funding to rebuild their deteriorating school buildings.
Both Ipswich’s Dr. Brian Blake and Triton’s Brian Forget pledged to apply again in the spring for the state funding to build deteriorating buildings.
Ipswich Public Schools submitted a statement of interest for its elementary schools, Paul F. Doyon Memorial School and Winthrop Elementary School, while Triton applied again to the MSBA for help in building its middle school and high school building.
The MSBA this year received 63 statements of interest from 52 different school districts. With an increase in total funding this year from $800 million to $1.2 billion, the agency accepted 19 schools into their funding program, including schools in Peabody, Worcester and Boston.
“I’ve been in some of those schools. There is no question they have significant need,” Forget said. “I remain hopeful” that Triton will receive funding for the middle and high school building.
MSBA executive Diane Sullivan has told Forget that Triton is in the top tier of schools applying.
On the North Shore, the Amesbury schools’ new elementary school was funded in part by the MSBA. And the proposed Whittier Regional Vocational High School, if approved next month, would receive $157 million from the MSBA of its $440 million new building. The MSBA funded 52 percent of Triton’s Pine Grove Elementary School.
In a letter published in the Ipswich News, Blake wrote: “While we are disappointed in their decision, we are not discouraged.
“The school committee and I will use the next few months to prepare to submit new statements of interest next spring, and I am optimistic for our prospects in the future. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that we HAVE to do something with our aging elementary school buildings. Our students deserve it!”
Forget, a veteran of the MSBA funding process, lamented that in other states once a school is in the process for funding, it stays in the queue and inches up year after year until it is funded.
In Massachusetts, schools not invited into the process must start again from scratch the next year.
Forget said the MSBA has a “well oiled” process with good communication since it became a department in the state Treasurer’s office. But Forget was not looking forward to assembling all the documentation the MSBA requires about the needs of the middle and high schools.
The MSBA will begin accepting statements of interest from districts Jan. 12 for next year’s eligibility period. The deadline for submissions is April 12.
Triton, which has the $1.6 million set aside for the required feasibility study, is creating a facilities subcommittee to be strategic in fixing pressing problems at the schools while preparing to be funded by the MSBA, Forget said.
The roof is the biggest issue. It leaks throughout the buildings, he said.
The 26-year-old roof is not only costly, but replacing it requires removing the air conditioning units on the roof.
The committee is expected to work with an engineering firm to make only those repairs that will be wasted if the MSBA funds a new building. Forget said, “We are being strategic, thoughtful about the buildings.”

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