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School projects get preliminary approval

Date: 11/23/2011

Nov. 23, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

SOUTHWICK — School renovation plans are ready to take the next step in the newly formed Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District.

Dr. Jay Barry, superintendent of the Southwick-Tolland Regional School District, told Reminder Publications his office received word last week that the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) had given its approval to the preliminary project cost of proposed renovations to the current regional high school building and repairs/reconfigurations at both Powder Mill Middle School and Woodland Elementary School.

The proposed campus-wide renovations would expand the footprint of the current regional high school to accommodate middle school students, expanding the grades that attend that building to seven through 12. The current middle school, Powder Mill, would be redesigned to house grades three through six and Woodland Elementary School would be reconfigured to better match the needs of pre-kindergarten through grade two. Necessary repairs would also take place at both Powder Mill and Woodland.

Barry said the MSBA has approved a preliminary cost estimate for the total campus project of approximately $71.8 million. He added that Southwick’s share of the construction debt is presently estimated to be $29.1 million.

“The good news is that the [recent] vote confirms that we are eligible for a $42.6 million grant from the MSBA, should the voters [in all three towns] approve their share of the debt,” Barry explained.

He said the move to include Granville in the existing regional school district, which was approved by voters in all three towns in early October and accepted by the Massachusetts Department of Education later that month, came at the suggestion of the MSBA, which indicted expanded regionalization of the district would improve the chances of funding for the proposed campus-wide reconfiguration.

“It allowed us to treat this as a campus-wide project and bring all three buildings up to date at once, which we think is a much more cost effective way to do this,” Barry indicated.

He said the district now has 120 days to secure debt approval from voters in all three towns, “then we start to move the project forward with construction documents and getting ready for the bid.”

Those votes are scheduled to take place on Jan. 9, 10 and 11, 2012. Barry said he did not have information regarding which town was voting on which day at this time.

Barry, whose office has been providing superintendent services for the Granville School District for some time, will, according to an office spokesperson, officially become superintendent of the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District on July 1, 2012.

Debbie Gardner can be reached by e-mail at

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