This week, State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, Chair of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), and MSBA Executive Director/Deputy CEO John K. McCarthy announced that the MSBA Board of Directors voted to move the Fort River Elementary School in Amherst, into the Schematic Design phase. In the Schematic Design phase, the MSBA and the District will look at possible options to consolidate the existing Fort River Elementary School and the Wildwood Elementary School and construct a new facility serving grades K-5 on the site of the existing Fort River Elementary School. The next step is for the MSBA to work in collaboration with the District to produce detailed designs for a potential project.
“Thanks to our collaborative work with local officials, we are working to build a 21st century educational facility that will provide Amherst students with a top-notch learning environment,” said Treasurer Goldberg.
The Amherst School District identified in their Statement of Interest, numerous deficiencies and structural integrity issues including mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. In addition to physical plant issues, the District reported that the existing facility does not support the delivery of its educational program.
The new building will be a state-of-the-art elementary school, designed to be a net-zero facility utilizing ground source heat and photovoltaics and will include extensive use of natural light and outdoor learning spaces.
“The new Fort River Elementary School will mean a better learning and teaching location for students and teachers,” stated Executive Director/Deputy CEO McCarthy.
Dr. Michael Morris, Amherst, Pelham, and Regional School Superintendent, remarked that "I am so pleased to see this essential project take the next step in the MSBA process that can lead to a greatly improved learning environment for our wonderful students and outstanding staff. I am deeply appreciative of the collaboration with the Town and community as we move forward together towards this goal."
Town Council President Lynn Griesemer stated, “This is another significant step forward for Amherst. It is a strong statement of support by the MSBA for all of the hard work of our Elementary School Building Committee, chaired by Councilor Cathy Schoen, the Town’s designers and consultants, and the many community members who continue to engage in the process.“
Town Manager Paul Bockelman added, “The design of the new Elementary School has just begun. We look forward to developing the site to incorporate parking, traffic circulation as well as outdoor learning, play and community spaces over the next few months.”
The next milestone is the MSBA Schematic Design submission, anticipated to be in December 2022, which will provide the total project cost and MSBA’s contribution to the project.
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 $16 billion in reimbursements for school construction projects.
To learn more about the Amherst Elementary School Building Project please visit www.amherst-school-project.com
Information on the Amherst Elementary School Building Committee can be found at www.amherstma.gov/ESBC
Contact: Brianna Sunryd, Director of Communications & Civic Innovation at email@example.com