Foster School Building Project
About the School and Project:
William L. Foster Elementary School was originally built in 1951 and totals approximately 73,636 square feet today. Though the building has been well maintained over the years, the outdated mechanical systems do not meet today’s building code requirements and are inefficient and increasingly costly to operate and maintain, requiring several repairs and inconvenience to students and staff in recent years.
During the 2017 Town Meeting, residents voted to appropriate $750,000, to conduct a feasibility study that would enable work to identify a permanent solution to the infrastructure and educational deficiencies that Foster has endured for several years. At that time, a new School Building Committee was created. At Town Meeting in 2020, an additional $350,000 was appropriated to augment the prior feasibility appropriation in keeping with feasibility costs for comparable school building projects.
A Brief History of the Building
In 1957, approximately 28,000 square feet was added to the original structure to provide a gym, cafeteria, and additional classroom space for students and staff. Significant renovations were made in 1974, which converted 12 classroom spaces into open classrooms, which greatly compromises the use and efficiency of the building today. At least six classrooms have no natural light and students must travel through these interior rooms to get to other classrooms, from which there is no direct exit. The current layout presents a significant negative impact on the delivery of educational programming at this school.
The MSBA Process: Foster School
In December 2019, Hingham was invited to participate in the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s (“MSBA”) Core Building Program to explore a permanent solution to the physical and educational deficiencies of the existing William L. Foster Elementary School. According to the MSBA website, the MSBA is a quasi-independent government authority whose mission is to partner with Massachusetts communities to support the design and construction of educationally-appropriate, flexible, sustainable, and cost-effective public-school facilities. This is the third time Hingham has worked with the current MSBA regime to build a new school. Hingham previously worked with the MSBA to build the new East Elementary School, which opened in 2009, and again shortly thereafter, when Hingham participated in the MSBA’s Model School Program to build the new Hingham Middle School. Both schools were completed on time and under the approved budget and Town Meeting appropriations.
For the Foster School project, we are currently in module four, Schematic Design. During this phase, the School Building Committee will work closely with our chosen architects, Raymond Design Associates, Inc. (RDA) and owners project manager, PMA Consultants, to create the final schematic design program and develop the project scope and budget documents that will be submitted to the MSBA for approval. This is a critical phase of the overall project and input from various stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, parents, students and other community members, will be gathered to ensure we are meeting our goal of developing a highly-efficient and attractively designed school that will enable the delivery of a 21st century education for Hingham students for decades to come.