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Building Committee Chooses Studio G Company For Design Analysis Of FloRo Building Project

by Robert Stewart
The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) and the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District have chosen a company to conduct the design phase of the Florence Roche Building Project. Studio G Architects of Jamaica Plain was picked after interviews were held with four different companies. According to officials at the company and the school district, Studio G was chosen based on its responses during the interview and the company’s understanding of the building project and the school district. Representing the school district during the interview process was School Superintendent Laura Chesson, Groton Town Manager Mark Haddad, and School Committee member Brian LeBlanc.
     Studio G’s web site describes the design firm as a “group of designers...building sustainable communities.” Their web site also states that Studio G “invests each project with environmentally responsible choices given the constraints of the program and budget.” Studio G is also certified as a woman-owned business by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Boston. A contract with Studio G is currently being negotiated by the district’s project management firm Left Wing, and Business and Finance Director Sherry Kersey.
     The Building Committee began reviewing the contract last week and the School Committee will begin its review at their Oct. 23 meeting. Ratification of a contract with Studio G is expected sometime in November. School Committee Chair Marlena Gilbert is pleased with the choice and said it was a “good fit” with the School District. Gilbert stated further, “They are a great choice for this project as they have experience in multi- building campuses, new builds, renovations, and additions. They have proven success in school buildings coming in under budget and in time. They have done their homework and have quickly familiarized themselves to our five-year educational strategic plan, budget concerns, different site locations, traffic concerns and other issues. I am very impressed with their desire to learn more about what our community values along with the physical aspects of our District buildings.”
     The design phase of the project includes studying a broad range of possibilities to improve conditions at the Florence Roche Elementary School. The scope of work will include, among many other things, schematic designs and feasibility studies of different options. This would include a cost analysis of several options at Florence Roche School including renovations, addition or a new building. During the design phase, Studio G will also undertake a grade reconfiguration review which the School Committee and Building Committee have expressed interest in studying.
     Gilbert noted that the Building Committee has discussed grade reconfiguration as part of their review of the Studio G contract. Gilbert said the School Committee will also be discussing grade reconfiguration at the elementary level as they review the Studio G contract. She said grade reconfiguration would be based educational benefit and equality of learning across all elementary schools in the district.        Gilbert noted that many comparable school districts have elementary grades structured as Kindergarten through fifth grade while Groton-Dunstable is structured Kindergarten through fourth grade. In a lot of those other districts, fifth grade students appear to outperform fifth grade students at Groton-Dunstable. Gilbert couldn’t say whether there is a correlation related to grade configuration but noted that discussing the issue during the Florence Roche building project would make sense.
     The design phase of the building project is expected to last 10-14 months and involve much public input. It would also include a facility assessment of the Swallow/Union School in Dunstable.
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