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School Committee foresees need for new elementary school; Vervaeke resigns

School Committee foresees need for new elementary school; Vervaeke resigns
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GROTON — The School Committee has voted unanimously to authorize Superintendent of Schools Alan Genovese submit a statement of interest form informing the Massachusetts School Building Authority (SBA) that building a new elementary school is “on the radar” for the district.

The vote would not commit the district to a construction project, but like a storm warning, the vote would enable it to study the signs that might indicate when and if a new school were needed, according to School Committee Chairman Charles McKinney.

“We would like to make the state aware of (the situation) so they are not surprised (if a request for reimburse is made),” said McKinney.

The elementary school is “fairly close to capacity,” he said.

“Three years ago, we thought growth was a significant issue,” said McKinney. “Growth is not the same problem that it was then. If you thought about it in terms of warning levels, we were at a very high state of alert.

“Today, we’re still concerned, but not alarmed, by growth,” he said. “At one time, we thought we’d need a new elementary school this year, but we’ve been really fortunate that those early forecasts proved to be untrue. We still have a significant amount of potential growth we have to keep eye on though, so we might still have the need for a building project in the coming years.”

For that reason, the authorization would allow Genovese to re-examine the data related to growth in both Groton and Dunstable in order to get a better handle on potential enrollment figures.

The purpose of filing a statement of interest form, states an SBA document, is to determine whether a school district believes it has any deficiencies in its school facilities.

The form to be submitted to the SBA is not intended as a formal request for funding or even a presentation of plans and designs, but simply to apprise the state of what the district believes are certain deficiencies in their system.

Among the deficiencies that can be listed as reasons for considering a new building project are overcrowding, the replacement of an existing building that is unsafe, the prevention of losing the district’s accreditation and court ordered racial balancing.

Also at the April 12 meeting, there was a surprise announcement by longtime School Committee member Alan Vervaeke, a representative of Dunstable, that he intended to resign his seat effective June 30.

Vervaeke, a member of the committee for the past seven years, said he was leaving the committee for personal reasons that included a move out of Dunstable.

“Over the past seven years, I have enthusiastically served the towns of Groton and Dunstable through my service on this School Committee,” said Vervaeke. “I’ve been re-elected twice, and I’ve been passionate for this work At the end of the day all I ever really wanted to do was improve the face of education for my three kids and for everyone’s kids here in my district.”

With two years remaining in Vervaeke’s term, the individual who replaces him will have to serve out those final years before being able to run for a full three-year term in his or her own right.

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