Orange to work with state on new school need

ORANGE — The state has agreed to consider adding Orange to the list of towns it will help build new schools.

Orange School Committee is looking into the possibility of building a new elementary school to house all the grades. That could replace the three existing schools, which each house different grade levels, Claudia Mallett, assistant clerk for the School Committee, said this week.

The town’s application specifically names Dexter Park School.

State Treasurer Steven Grossman, chairman of the Massachusetts School Building Authority and MSBA Executive Director Jack McCarthy announced today that the authority’s board of directors voted to invite the local school officials to discuss their financial and capital construction needs.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with Orange officials to develop the best solution to meet the town’s educational needs in a fiscally responsible manner,” said Grossman in a press statement issued after the authority’s vote.

During a 270-day “eligibility period,” the authority will work with Orange to determine its financial and community readiness to enter the funding assistance pipeline. The state may pay up to 90 percent of construction costs for new schools, depending on a community’s need.

The next step is for the district to complete preliminary requirements pertaining to local approval and formation of a local school building committee. Upon timely and successful completion of the eligibility requirements, the district becomes eligible for developing a feasibility study.

“The eligibility period is a critical step in the MSBA’s process of evaluating potential work on the Dexter Park School,” said Executive Director McCarthy.

The MSBA partners with Massachusetts communities to support the design and construction of educationally appropriate, flexible, sustainable and cost-effective public school facilities. Since its 2004 inception, the authority has made about $10.4 billion in reimbursements for school capital improvement projects.

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