By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
SHREWSBURY – Crews are making steady progress on Shrewsbury’s new Beal School, a project architect and a contracted consultant told the School Committee April 7.
Sean Brennan of Lamoureux Pagano Associates /Architects and Walter Hartley from PMA Associates, indeed, had only positive updates for the committee during a presentation at a recent meeting. School District officials themselves were similarly excited.
“This project really has been nothing but a good news story from the start to the present,” Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Finance Patrick Collins said in introductory remarks.
He said the project will reach “substantial completion” in late May and is on target for occupancy this coming fall.
Hartley then added that the whole effort is coming in under budget. Originally $92,000,000 allocated, crews had only invoiced for roughly $60,000,000 as of April 7.
Project takes shape over years of work
Construction began in June of 2019 after voters approved a debt exclusion to replace the existing Beal school on Maple St. At that point, Hartley said, realignment work on Lake Street near the new Beal site required immediate attention.
Crews wrapped up that portion of their work in November of that year to then get to work on the rest of the project.
Beal school will offer broad amenities
When completed, the Beal School will boast special features that include student community raised gardens, a separate wing and playground for the kindergarten, a soccer field and an outdoor classroom.
There will also be a “history wall” collaborative art project that can grow and evolve called “Growing from the Past.” A “community-wide effort,” that space will mark moments of town history.
The building contains expansive windows that lets the outdoor air and light inside. A main interior corridor will feature its own sprawling mural by noted children’s book author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds.
Hartley added that elements from the existing Beal school will be incorporated into the new school such as a relief sculpture purchased by the class of 1926.
“It’s a fantastic piece and it’s such a treasure,” he said.
That particular item will be taken out of the current Beal building and rehabbed before crews reinstall it in the main corridor of the new school.
Additionally, the corridor will also include dedication plaques. One will honor the old Beal School. A new one will dedicate the new building.
School Committee member has personal connections
As this work continues, School Committee member Jon Wensky has a personal connection to the project.
His mother is a retired school nurse who spent much of her career at the old Beal School.
“From what we saw when we were on-site, I think [that] the location, coupled with thoughtful design…makes for a very unique school in this town unlike anything we’ve seen.”
The Major Howard W. Beal Elementary School will be located at 214 Lake St.