September 26, 2023

Seekonk Schools Building Needs

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The Seekonk School Committee is considering what steps to take to address aging school buildings. Last February, a consultant identified more than $42 million in needs for Seekonk Public Schools. Dan Phillips of Colliers outlined the conditions of the four schools, how many classrooms are being used, and enrollment projections. The firm conducted an assessment of the buildings in 2022 as part of the district’s strategic plan.

“Based on what was identified in these reports, (Hurley Middle School) has the most capital needs,” committee member Kim Sluter said at the September 11 meeting. Sluter also cited declining enrollment of 8th grade students going to Seekonk High School. An October 24 special election will be held for a new facility at Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin. “What concerns me is when you get this brand-new $280 million facility at Tri-County, and they have more specialized programming, better equipped labs, etc. that we’re going to lose more students there which is actually going to cost our town more money,” Sluter said.”I don’t want that gap to grow. We have such excellent things happening here at the high school.”

$15 million worth of needs were identified for Hurley Middle School, including an HVAC system, roof replacement, upgrade of the electrical service and distribution panels, exterior masonry, and work on the parking areas. “Fixing the HVAC system (at Hurley) is one of the most reasonable things to do,” said member Kyle Juckett. “We already have buildings in this town that we have kind of walked away from.”

Superintendent Rebecca Kidwell noted that capital needs have to be prioritized. “We just need to consider really carefully maintaining our building versus new construction,” Kidwell said.

$17.9 million worth of needs were identified for Seekonk High School, including a new roof, locker rooms, an HVAC system, and an upgrade of interior finishes due to the age of the building. Phillips said school district enrollment would increase from 10 to 27 percent over the next 10 years, although a 19 percent increase is most probable. Hurley and Seekonk High School would end up with larger classes as a result.

“I think it’s our taxpayers’ final decision,” said committee member Noah Escaler. “We’ll have to really make sure we’re presenting our options appropriately and fiscally responsibly for our taxpayers.”

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