Public input sought for future school space needs

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Canton school leaders have begun studying in earnest the findings of a private architectural firm that was hired to examine current and future school building needs, and the project has advanced to the public input phase.

rodman1Representatives from Dore & Whittier Architects will present its latest findings to the public on Wednesday, April 5, at 7 p.m. in the CHS cafeteria. The presentation will consist of an update and an interactive activity on the district’s school facilities master plan and educational visioning study.

Dore & Whittier will share its preliminary facility assessment findings; its educational needs analysis; and current progress on helping the School Department and the School Committee develop a future vision for all of the CPS school buildings. Attendees at the April 5 meeting will also be asked to participate in small-group discussions to provide feedback on the project.

Dore & Whittier presented their latest findings to the School Committee on Thursday night, March 23, and the discussion focused on future classroom needs; possible reorganization of grade levels; and the possible relocation of school administration offices to the Paul Revere Heritage Site — an idea first envisioned two years ago when town meeting voted to rezone the property.

After reviewing demographic trends, Dore & Whittier has projected school enrollment to remain relatively flat in Canton over the next 10 years. However, the current space needs analysis shows that the JFK and Luce schools are over capacity with room for growth at CHS and the Galvin Middle School.

Looking ahead to the future, the report projects additional classroom needs of two each at the JFK, Luce and Galvin, one at the Hansen, and six at CHS and the Rodman Early Childhood Center.

However, one JFK parent told the committee and the architect’s representative that she disagreed with the findings for the JFK, noting that the building is so overcrowded that storage closets are now being used as classrooms. Overcrowding has also prompted the School Department to implement a lottery for parents registering kindergarteners in the JFK district, with those not selected being bused to the Hansen School (see related item below).

In terms of possible grade configurations, Dore and Whittier outlined several options, including the current model of pre-kindergarten, K-5, grades 6-8, and grades 9-12 or switching to a new format, such as preK-2, grades 3-5, grades 6-8, and grades 9-12, or preK-3, grades 4-7, and grades 8-12.

Regarding school administration space, School Committee Chairman John Bonnanzio and representatives from Dore & Whittier are planning to arrange a future meeting with various town officials to study the option of building a 21,500-square-foot central office on unused property currently owned by Eversource at the former Plymouth Rubber site on Revere Street.

The schools are also slated to receive a $2 million mitigation payment from the property’s developer, Canton Holdings, to be used for capital upgrades or for building a new facility. Bonnanzio had originally suggested either the historic Revere copper mill or barn as a possible home for the central offices; however, the town has now shifted its focus to building a museum and cultural center at the site. If the School Department does decide to relocate its offices, either to the Eversource property or elsewhere, it would free up considerable classroom space at the Rodman building and perhaps pave the way for …

See this week’s Canton Citizen to read the full version of this story, featuring highlights of recent achievements by CHS students. Not a subscriber? Click here to order your subscription today (also available in digital form).

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