Lockers at Consentino School were replaced last year.
Councilors Tuesday night approved the city’s request to the state School Building Authority for expansion and renovation of the Albert B. Consentino School.
In making its pitch, the city said overcrowding and aging mechanical systems have eroded the district’s ability to deliver the best education possible to the 1,000 students who attend the school that serves kindergarten through eighth grade.
Among the issues listed in the city’s formal Statement of Interest are:
- Converting computer and science labs to general classroom space
- Using storage space above the gymnasium for two third-grade classrooms
- Eliminating teacher workrooms to use as classrooms
- Setting up small instructional areas in closets and storage areas
- Converting the band room into a third-grade classroom, resulting in the virtual elimination of Consentino’s band program
- Class sizes exceeding 30 students per classroom
- Removing special education students to other schools in the district
“The overcrowding and limitations on space have had a dramatic impact on the quality of programs at the school,” the submission states.
According to the paperwork filed with the SBA, the mechanical and electrical systems are original to the school, which was built in 1969. The school’s capacity for modern education practices suffers as a result.
“The technology infrastructure of the school is woefully inadequate,” the city’s submission states.
The school’s roof suffers from perpetual leaks, resulting in falling ceiling tiles and rainwater collection buckets in classrooms and communal spaces, the city’s submission says.
Replacing the mechanical and electrical systems and roof will give the Consentino another 30-plus years of use, the statement says.
Mayor James J. Fiorentini said he is asking the state to consider a four- to eight-room addition as well as renovation of the school’s interior, which will ease crowding not only at Consentino but will allow several classrooms’ worth of students to move out of the nearby Tilton School, which includes kindergarten through fifth grade.
The city’s Statement of Interest is only the first step in seeking state approval of a project and, more importantly, help in paying for it.
If the state approves the city’s request for consideration, the next step would be an exhaustive study that would look at the condition of Consentino’s building, birth rates in the neighborhoods that feed the school, population trends and more.
The state would decide what sort of project it would approve, Fiorentini said.
“The real tough decisions would come at that point, and that’s how do we pay for it.”
Fiorentini said he hopes to keep the city’s share of the project at $20 million, which would allow the city to maintain the same annual payments taxpayers are making on the Nettle School bond, which will be paid up in two years.
Consentino School, at 685 Washington St., was built in 1969 as a middle school and reconfigured in 2011 to serve K-through-8.