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Framingham to ask for state funds to renovate failing Fuller Middle School

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  February 6, 2013 03:11 PM

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fullerschool.jpg
Massachusetts School Building Authority
Framingham's Fuller Middle School
Framingham selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to send a statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority appealing to the state agency to help the town plan and fund renovations to the deteriorating failing Fuller Middle School building by 2016.

Framingham Superintendent Stacy Scott told selectmen that the building's roof has begun to leak, and that building itself, which was built in the 1950s, suffers structural degradation.

The building's failings exist as school officials project the Framingham district will grow by over 600 students in the next 10 years, Scott said.

"The study has indicated that our current inventory of buildings are inadequate to address the needs of a growing population," he said.

Scott said that although submitting a statement of interest is no guarantee that the state building authority will commit to helping the town, he said the failure of a key middle school building, which will also see a threat of overcrowding in the upcoming decade, might pique the state's interest.

"What the MSBA looks for in a project is the more complicated it is, the more need there is," Scott said. "The building is in need of repair, and the district expects a growth in size. It is clear that this might be an attractive challenge that they would welcome joining us in."

If the state authority decides to help the town rebuild the school, the agency would help the district along a four-year path that includes conducting a feasibility study, conceptualizing and planning renovations, finding funds for the project, and ultimately breaking ground and completing the new school.

Richard Thuma, a project manager working with the town, said that Framingham will appeal to the state that the building is structurally unsound and interferes with the school's learning environment.

"Fuller was built in 1958 - it is tired," Thuma said, noting that roof repairs alone would cost about $4 million. "It has structural degradation that is certainly repairable, but the repairs would just get it back to the 1958 condition. It's questionable whether this makes good economic sense for the district."

By submitting the statement of interest, the town has not committed any funds to renovating the school yet. However, if the project goes ahead, officials must appear before Town Meeting to appropriate funds for a feasibility study early on in the process.

Framingham selectmen Dennis Giombetti said he agreed the school needed to be revitalized, noting that he attended school there when he was a young student.

"It is a worthwhile project, and it does need to be looked at - for students today and for our future students," Giombetti said.

Scott said after the meeting that he hopes to knock the building down and start anew, but that it was too early to tell what specific renovations would include, or how much it would cost.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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