SHREWSBURY – The Shrewsbury High School expansion project has taken an important step forward.
In March, the School Committee unanimously voted to send a statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Administration (MSBA) regarding expanding Shrewsbury High School. At the time, then-Assistant Superintendent for Operations and Finance Patrick Collins noted that the state building administration is very selective when it comes to choosing projects.
During the School Committee’s Sept. 6 meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Christian Girardi — Collins’ successor — announced that Shrewsbury had advanced past the building administration’s initial review. Over 60 projects were submitted from across the state, and Shrewsbury’s proposal was one of 30 to advance to the next round of consideration.
The building administration will now perform a senior study in October, sending architects to examine the building and review the statement of interest. The MSBA will vote in January 2024 to move forward with selected projects.
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“This is very good news,” Superintendent Joe Sawyer said at the September meeting. “The MSBA does a very thorough job – as they should – of vetting all those statements of interest. The analogy I would use is the MSBA is looking at this like a jigsaw puzzle: they’re going to look at what their budget is for the next round, and they’re going to piece together a variety of projects they believe are the most important to support. Our hope is that the [expansion project] is a piece of the puzzle that fits.”
Shrewsbury has previously worked with the building administration when building Sherwood Middle School and the new Maj. Howard W. Beal Elementary School. The district most recently worked with the MSBA to coordinate the recent window replacement at Oak Middle School. The building administration — primarily funded by one penny of the state’s 6.25% sales tax — received additional funding from the state budget this year.
According to previous reporting by the Community Advocate, if an expansion project is ultimately approved, Shrewsbury would be eligible for reimbursement from the state up to 80% of the cost of the project.
The high school was designed in 2002 to hold 1,475 students (the equivalent of 1,250 students by today’s design standards). At its peak in 2020, the school held close to 1,900 students. The school has resorted to cannibalizing itself recently to make room for additional classrooms, guidance offices and other facilities needed to accommodate the excess students.