NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – The Northbridge School Committee agreed Tuesday to seek the support of selectmen to submit a “statement of interest’’ to the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
Before the application can go forward, it must contain the signatures of the town manager and all members of the School Committee and Board of Selectmen, Schools Superintendent Nancy Spitulnik said.
The School Building Authority will not support a school building project unless it has the full support of community leaders behind it, she noted.
It is the start of a lengthy process. If the Building Authority offers state funding to replace, renovate or modernize the schools, it begins with a feasibility study that could cost as much as $500,000.
The application lists each of the schools being considered for improvement or replacement and deficiencies within each of those of school. The W. Edward Balmer School on Crescent Street is listed as the district's priority.
The Northbridge Elementary School on Cross Street, which houses preschool through grade 1 students, was built in 1952. It is overcrowded, its life extended with an expansion in 1982 and the addition of six modular classrooms in 2000.
“We have also converted several closets into OT [occupational therapy] and PT [physical therapy] spaces for special needs students. The art and music rooms are located on the second and third floors of the building and are not assessable to handicap students,’’ the application notes.
The W. Edward Balmer School on Crescent Street, which houses students in grades 2-4, was built in 1967 and has had no major upgrades since its construction.
“The goal is to bring this building up to today’s standards or replace it,’’ the application states. “This project would include the expansion and upgrades to all of the core facility…
“In adding additional classroom space, the project would eliminate the use of locker rooms that we are now using as classrooms,’’ the application notes.
In addition, it would include an elevator making the second floor of the building accessible to all students.
Northbridge Middle School on Linwood Avenue houses students in Grades Five to Eight. It was built in 1905, additions were added in 1927, 1955 and 1986, and four modular classrooms added in 2000.
The application lists several issues with the school, but notes: “The only impacts that are a direct result of these issues are that we are not able to provide a comfortable space for the children to learn in.’’ The many additions created a “maze’’ which is very difficult for the students to navigate, the application notes.
The application also includes the Aldrich School on Hill Street, which housed students in the pre-K program. It is now used as a Town Hall annex. That building was built in 1890 and was closed because its continued use required many repairs and costly upgrades.
Spitulnik said Facilities Manager Paul Halacy will bring the request for the application’s support to the Board of Selectmen on March 11 and back to the School Committee on March 12.
The deadline to submit the application to the School Building Authority is mid-April.