Superintendent Hopes To Have Short-Term Solution For Wildwood Identified By Fall 2021; Any Building Project Is “Many Years Down The Road”

WILMINGTON, MA — At last week’s School Committee Meeting, Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand announced that, over the next 12 months, the district will formulate a plan on how to address school building needs and grade level configuration at the elementary school level, with particular attention paid to the Wildwood Early Childhood Center.

“The District is at an important point in time related to the immediate future of grade‐level and building configuration,” Brand wrote to the Committee. “There are two primary factors are of concern: First, there remains a degree of urgency in relocating the staff and students from the Wildwood Early Childhood Center as that facility is beyond its useful life in terms of its ability to offer a sound and comfortable learning space to support the school’s programs, services and staff. Second, with the hopeful possibility of a future invitation into the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) pipeline for projects, the District and town will need to formalize decisions around the future desired configuration of our ideal elementary school‐building/grade‐level configuration.”

By the Fall of 2021, Brand intends on identifying and offering recommendations to the School Committee regarding preferred elementary school/grade/building configurations for both immediate and longer-term future operations. Brand plans on (1) reviewing the recently completed Town Facilities Master Plan study and recommendations for building and grade level configurations; (2) reviewing existing school capacity of the district’s PreK-8 school facilities; and (3) gathering information from the forthcoming third party study of options that may be available to the district for the Wildwood School on an interim basis.

With the assistance of a Steering Committee, Brand will provide an update to the School Committee in May 2021 and offer final recommendations to the School Committee in late September/early October 2021.

The third party study that Brand references will be funded by a $80,000 expenditure approved at this year’s Town Meeting to hire a consultant to explore possible alternatives for the Wildwood. After a COVID-related delay, the Town Manager’s Office will be issuing a RFP to prospective consultant firms by the end of this month.

“The shelf life of the Wildwood is limited and of great concern,” stressed Brand, who is concerned about housing programs, students and staff there and recognizes some solution, albeit temporary, needs to be reached soon. “Regardless of what happens with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, any possible building construction is many years down the road.”

Brand also noted that the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) has delayed any action on Wilmington’s application — and all other applications — to enter its core program. Entering the program would have allowed Wilmington to take a “deep dive” into how to improve the conditions of one, some or all of its elementary school buildings. The MSBA traditionally issues its decisions in late August or September, but will now be waiting until the spring or possibly even summer due to COVID-19. The MSBA is also reopening its application window for new districts to apply.

“We don’t have any decision upon where we stand as a district, but no one else does either,” said Brand. “We’re waiting.”

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