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Renovation of Newton's Carr School could cost $10 million

Posted by Deidre Fernandes  March 27, 2012 06:23 PM

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Newton officials want to renovate Carr School – an $8 to $10 million project - so that students can use the building as temporary space while their home schools are under construction.

District officials said Carr would be the best place to house Angier Elementary School students in a few years, when that building is planned for renovation.

“It’s the right size,” said Sandra Guryan, the deputy superintendent. “It was an elementary school.”

On Monday night, the Newton School Committee voted 8-1 to support the use of Carr as swing space.

Carr currently serves as a cultural arts center. Newton Community Pride, Newton Open Studios, Suzuki School of Newton, Green Decade/Newton, and the city’s cultural arts office are among about a dozen organizations that have offices in Carr.

Those organizations would have to be moved out and officials are looking for new space.

School Committee Member Geoff Epstein, who voted against the use of Carr as swing space, said he struggled with spending so much money to renovate the building when he uncertain about how much it would be used.

“After Angier is done, what are you going to do with Carr?” Epstein said. “I can’t see beyond Angier.”

Epstein said he was concerned that the district wouldn’t be able to do other projects if it spent the money on Carr.

But other school committee members said that is a different issue and their main concern is whether the building will be appropriate for students.

“The only issue before us is if this meets our education needs,” said Matthew Hills, the school committee’s vice chairman.

The district is developing a long range plan for renovating its schools and officials hope to be able to use Carr as swing space for about 15 years, Guryan said.

District officials hope to renovate Carr in the next two years, so that it will be ready when crews start work on the new Angier.

Plans to renovate or rebuild Angier are on the fast track. The Massachusetts School Building Authority will vote on Wednesday whether to invite Newton to conduct a feasibility study on the project, an initial step to determining how much money the state will chip in.

The Angier project, estimated to cost about $23 million, is a top priority in Mayor Setti Warren’s long range capital improvement plan. Newton officials have discussed asking for a debt exclusion override of Proposition 2 1/2 for Angier and other projects throughout the city.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com.

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