WESTBOROUGH, Mass. – Gibbons Middle School was constructed decades ago and the building is showing signs of its age. Now a committee is being formed that will get a renovation started as well as get a large refund from the state.
"The building itself is 50 years old," said Ilyse Levine-Kanji, School Committee chairwoman. "In the early 2000s, we noticed several things that needed repair at Gibbons School. We decided to bundle projects and get reimbursed from the state."
Residents at Town Meeting in March approved transferring $158,000 to fund a new committee that will explore the Gibbons renovations. That vote also helped ensure the town will receive a reimbursement of 43 percent of what the town spends on repairs to Gibbons.
However, it was back in 2008 when the town applied for the reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority. "It just takes a ton of time to get anything accomplished," said Levine-Kanji.
The building renovation committee's make-up has been delayed, however, because selectmen still haven't decided to appoint one of their own or have Town Manager Jim Malloy act as their representative.
Levine-Kanji told selectmen that the School Committee would welcome a selectman representative, while adding that it is "mind-boggling" how long its taken to get the committee formed.
The anticipated cost of the renovation is $9.7 million, but Levine-Kanji said that figure could change. That estimate includes $1.2 million in plumbing upgrades, $1.5 million for lighting and ceiling replacement, and $2.25 million to replace the entire roof.
"It's much less costly than building a new school," she said. "The structure of the building is sound, but we need to update it to bring it up to standards."
Gibbons School Principal said that lines for the school's computer network would also be upgraded, in addition to other renovations such as replacing windows.
"The windows in the building right now are just single-pane," he said. "I can't imagine they're all that energy efficient."
Seating in the auditorium would also be replaced, as would the aging wooden bleachers in the gymnasium.
This won't be the first makeover for Gibbons School. In 1986, an addition was constructed that now houses the seventh grade, along with the library and music departments.
Foley said it was better to start the renovation funding process now and get the state reimbursement, than wait until the situation is more dire and be without any state reimbursement.
"We're really fortunate that the buildings are well kept and well maintained," he said. "The facilities folks do an outstanding job."