The timeline for a new or renovated middle school in Scituate could be accelerated as school officials make their way through the state funding process.
Scituate was invited into the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s eligibility period in mid-November, and although officials have nine months to finish the items in this stage, some are hoping to reach the next step of the process within one to two months.
“I’m hoping [to complete this stage early], optimistically, if not January, then certainly by March,” said Superintendent John McCarthy.
According to McCarthy, Scituate is already ahead of the game, having received approval from Special Town Meeting to move forward with a $750,000 feasibility study that would look at the conditions of the aging Gates Middle School.
Finding and securing feasibility study funding is the hardest part of the eligibility period, McCarthy said.
Other aspects, such as receiving sign-offs from numerous town officials, forming a School Building Committee to oversee the potential process, and completing enrollment projections, are much easier to accomplish, he said.
With the most cumbersome approval out of the way, McCarthy is hopeful to move through the MSBA’s process quickly, receiving a welcome into the MSBA program early next year, and start conducting a feasibility study shortly thereafter.
“That’s the hope, to have [the feasibility study] done by the end of the year, and as we look forward to next Special Town Meeting in the fall, we might have something to present to the town on the plan selected,” McCarthy said. “That’s what I have in my head as a time frame. It’s subject to change, but optimistically, I think that’s the quickest we can do it.”
Once the town turns in all the documentation, the only thing that could delay the process is MSBA approval, McCarthy said.
“It depends on their meeting schedule,” he said. “They have one for end of January, and the next might not be until March, so it depends on their meeting schedule and when they want to put us on the agenda. It will be on their hands to how fast they want to move things forward.”
Though officials are eager to move through the process, doing things done correctly is more important than doing things quickly, McCarthy said.
“I think it needs to be done right, that’s critical. I don’t think we want to rush anything,” McCarthy said.
One of the main reasons the feasibility study is important is because it will help determine the direction the school needs to go, and ensure that everything is done in the right way.
In the meantime, while the school has some significant problems, the children are in no danger, and learning can still occur in the building.
“There is a lot of concern around the Gates building itself. But it still functions. It's still safe,'' McCarthy said. "It has lots of issues, there is no question, and those will hopefully be addressed by this study. But in terms of provding a quality education to the kids of Scituate, we can still do that in that building."