Origins of PRSD
In 1954 Groveland, Merrimac and West Newbury formed the Pentucket Regional School District. After approving funding in 1956 they began construction on a new Junior-Senior High School, which opened in 1958. A Regional Middle School was constructed on the same campus in 1967. After more than 50 or 60 years of use, the buildings are in need of replacement. This need was evident 20 years ago when the district partnered with the state to fund a proposed new high school. At that time, the total cost was $36,873.600, with a district-share of $10,342,608 (which would have been divided between the three regional towns). This proposal was not supported and the project ended. Over the past 20 years, consistent facility infrastructure failures in regards to the water, heat and electrical systems continue to raise the level of urgency.
In 2015 PRSD contracted CGKV Architects and Fitzmeyer & Tocci Associates to prepare an existing conditions report to accompany the Statement of Interest (SOI) submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in 2015. This report concluded that the HVAC equipment from 1956 was in “imminent danger of possible failure. This would result in a large portion of the building being without heat”. They also concluded that the original 1956 electrical distribution equipment appears to be in “imminent danger of possible failure, which would result in the school being without power.” These reports can be viewed by clicking the links below.
For the past four years, PRSD has been following the MSBA process to explore and select a plan to address the building issues. In this process the MSBA encouraged PRSD to explore a 7-12 solution. As a result, the School Committee engaged the community on multiple occasions (January 2017 Public Hearing, Thought Exchanges, Visioning Sessions, multiple Public Project updates in 2018) to explore the idea of a 7-12 Building Project. During the Feasibility Study (conducted from the fall of 2016 until the Fall of 2018) the district considered a range of options. These options included renovation, renovation/addition and new construction of a 9-12 building as well as a 7-12 building configurations. The community has consistently indicated that a 7-12 solution is preferred and is the most cost effective for the district long term. Links to several of these are below.
In the interim, PRSD has developed a series of school building contingency plans. Should a system failure require a repair in excess of 30 percent of the building value, the system in question cannot simply be repaired. Building code requires that a more in depth renovation take place to bring the entire facility into code compliance. This would necessitate a lengthy project with students displaced to other buildings in the district.
Just as we did back in the 1950’s, Pentucket is now nearing another significant funding vote, which will impact our school system for years to come. Each community must approve the funding request at town meeting on April 29, 2019 and a week later at the ballot on May 6, 2019.