By Michele Morgan Bolton, Globe Correspondent
Students, staff, and teachers at the Avery Elementary School are "floating on air" this morning, a day after residents enthusiastically agreed to fund a new school and renovations to the Stone Park athletic complex at the high school, which will be part of the same campus.
"I just came back from their morning announcements,'' said Dedham School Superintendent June Doe. "It is spectacular. We couldn't be more thrilled."
The new three-story, 61,000-square-foot school is to be built on 5 acres near Pottery Lane, just a short distance from its current location on High Street. The state School Building Authority agreed to give Dedham an $11 million grant if the town pays the rest of the $23 million project. Residents voted yesterday to foot the town's $12 million share by a margin of 6,231 to 4,105, or by 59.9 percent. More than 53 percent of residents also voted to pay $3.1 million for new fields and turf.
Nearly 11,000 of the town's 16,000 registered voters turned out to make their wishes known.
In 2007, the state school building agency deemed the Avery School
one of the 67 worst school buildings in the state. A tributary from
Mother Brook that runs under the 88-year-old building regularly raises
the basement floor, eating away at the facility's infrastructure and,
recently, collapsed a gymnasium wall. The school was also plagued with a range of other problems from antiquated plumbing and basement bathrooms for the building's 200-plus students to no handicap access, fire sprinklers, or kitchen facilities.
One of the toughest issues for students was having no grass to play on at recess, officials said, and injuries abounded.
"The nice thing about Dedham is that every neighborhood in town turned out to support us,'' Doe said. "These were two huge initiatives."
Last night, school officials were on the phone with architects Dorr & Whittier as soon as the vote was in to get the project's final design on a fast track. Doe said the goal is to get the job out to bid by summer.
Dedham will be a model for using "a construction manager at risk,'' Doe said, which involves hiring a third individual to keep an eye on costs.
"It's a new model we are going to embrace that has been used successfully in the private domain," she said. "Now, it's available to the public, another set of eyes to streamline the project."
If all goes according to plan, Doe said the school could be ready to open in spring 2012. And, she said, coupled with the new athletic complex bordered by the new Avery and the high school, "it opens up a lot of potential."
Michele Morgan Bolton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.