NORTHBOROUGH – Town leaders have taken the first step to make improvements to Peaslee Elementary School.
Superintendent Greg Martineau went before the Board of Selectmen on March 27 to seek approval to submit a statement of interest (SOI); the School Committee has already voted to authorize Martineau.
This will get the town in the queue for consideration for funding by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).
According to the statement of interest attached to the Board of Selectmen’s agenda packet, Peaslee was originally constructed in 1962 and is made up of a 50,000-gross-square-foot building sitting on a 30 acre property at 31 Maple Street.
“While maintained over the years, the majority of the facility’s building systems and components are nearing end-of-life expectancy, especially the HVAC, flat roof, plumbing and electrical system,” the statement read.
The goal is to modernize and expand Peaslee. According to the SOI, special education instruction, literacy programs, math, English Language Learner intervention, the library/media center, STEM laboratory and fine arts are “struggling in compromised, undedicated spaces.”
“Additional space is required to advance the development of these programs to meet our goals in the spirit they were intended for,” the SOI said.
Among the needs, classrooms have limited storage space. None of the bathrooms are accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and parts of the playground facilities aren’t accessible and the equipment isn’t adaptive.
The SOI also outlines space challenges for student support services, which are allocated eight spaces for special education and student support services faculty. Their largest classroom is used to work with moderate needs special education students, and it is shared between two SPED teachers.
“Confidentiality is limited, and volume is difficult to control,” the SOI said.
It also notes that there isn’t alternative space available to provide quiet instructional space outside of the regular education setting. Plus, the speech language program room is “very small, and difficult to service more than two students at a time,” and the behavior specialist’s room, which used to be the faculty room, doesn’t have the adequate space for multiple students and support professionals.
The speech and language assistant uses the art room on the two days the art teacher is out of the classroom, and the psychologist offers counseling in the conference room. Additionally, the library is located in a former general education classroom. Its storage capacity is insufficient, the SOI said, and collections are stored outside of the room and can only be accessed by students during specific times of the year.
The SOI also noted that there was limited space for collaboration and meetings, and the spectator space in the gym is limited, meaning Peaslee can’t host athletic competitions or community events.
The district has prioritized STEAM, but the SOI noted that the classrooms aren’t designed for this use, meaning students “lose out on many opportunities to engage in collaborative activities.”
According to Martineau, if Northborough is invited into MSBA’s eligibility phase, this phase will examine enrollment studies and the community’s needs and interest in moving the project forward.
He said that if Northborough is invited in, the process could take between five to seven years.