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Forest Park Middle School on track for upgrades

Date: 4/11/2011

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — The city and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) are negotiating the terms of a Project Funding Agreement for the addition and renovations necessary for Forest Park Middle School.

The project, which includes renovations to 140,00 square feet and the construction of an addition totaling 8,800 square feet, had previously been wait-listed but is now on the table for $43 million. The MSBA will cover 90 percent of the costs, requiring the city to pay $4 million.

"With our very tight budget, many competing priorities and state requirements regarding school construction, it is safe to say the Forest Park renovation project would not be possible without MSBA funding. The funding has been absolutely vital to this project," Dr. Alan Ingram, school superintendent, said.

The need for renovations and the additional 8,800 square feet is not due to increasing enrollment, he explained, but attributed to the building's age of more than 100 years.

Katherine Craven, executive director of the MSBA Board of Directors, noted the project will also "address deficiencies in the mechanical, electrical and structural systems, allowing the teachers to better deliver their educational program."

State Treasurer Steven Grossman, chair of the MSBA, noted the cost-savings benefit of the project. "I am pleased that the MSBA Board approved this grant of $39 million [on March 30]," he said. "We have worked together long and hard and now we have plans for an efficient, sustainable, affordable and much improved Forest Park [Middle School] that will save not only local taxpayers but also taxpayers state-wide."

Ingram echoed Grossman's sentiments. "Students at that school, as well as students in all of our schools, deserve to be in the best buildings," he said.

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