NASHUA — Preliminary cost estimates for the ongoing middle school project have been revealed, indicating a potential $78 million price tag for a new, three-story middle school in the south end of the city.
In addition, renovation estimates for the existing middle schools in Nashua hover around $12 million for Fairgrounds Middle School, $24 million for Pennichuck Middle School and $93 million for Elm Street Middle School.
The Harriman architectural firm unveiled the preliminary cost estimates to the Joint Special School Building Committee last week. Options to be considered by school officials include renovating all three middle schools, or renovating only Fairgrounds and Pennichuck while constructing a new middle school and opting not to utilize the Elm Street school.
The cost estimates include construction, technology, furnishings, fixtures, architectural fees, abatement of hazardous materials, and project contingencies, according to Mark Lee of Harriman.
“The first time we get the costs, they are higher than what we will end up with,” said Alderman Richard Dowd. “When we end up with the final design, hopefully these will be a little lower.”
At Fairgrounds Middle School, the newly released feasibility report is proposing $12,121,772 in work, which includes a new entrance, upgrades for the unified arts, upgrades to the science room, collaborative instruction spaces, gym renovations, improved special education rooms, and parking and drop-off reconfiguration.
At Pennichuck Middle School, $24,644,879 in work is being recommended, including classroom additions to replace portables, a library addition, upgrades for the unified arts, science room improvements, team collaborative instruction space, gym upgrades, improved special education rooms, and off-site and parking enhancements.
At Elm Street Middle School, $93,476,978 in renovations is being proposed, which includes a secure entrance, relocated administrative area, new cafeteria and kitchen, modified unified arts space, updated special education classrooms, resized classrooms, team instruction areas, additional off-site parking and other exterior upgrades. It does not include any improvements to Keefe Auditorium.
A proposed new school, at a cost of $78,132,350, includes a three-story, 180,000-square-foot building with three ball fields, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a running track off Cherrywood Drive.
“The new school is slightly smaller than what the renovated Elm Street school is,” said Lee.
A proposed $4.8 million district-wide special education program is also being suggested in the plans, which could operate on the new school site, he said.
The Board of Education will soon be presented with the results of the feasibility study, and the public will have an opportunity to review the plans on Oct. 24.
“That is a big pill to swallow for the city,” Paula Johnson, former alderman, said of the cost estimates.
Dowd explained that efforts can be made to alter some of the designs and reduce costs.
William Mosher, school board member, said the district is fortunate to have city-owned land available for a new school.
With so many deficiencies identified at Elm Street Middle School, Mosher said he would support the construction of a new school that would be up to code and have an extensive lifespan.