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LONGMEADOW — Superintendent M. Martin O’Shea presented a recap of the town’s past community visioning sessions and reviewed the next steps for the middle school building project during the School Committee’s April 9 meeting.

Longmeadow’s middle school building project began in 2015 with an evaluation of the town’s two middle schools, Glenbrook and Williams, according to Longmeadow Public Schools. A statement of interest was then submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority in May 2021 after a report from Colliers Project Leaders found $30.2 million in repairs needed between the schools.

In the project’s multi-year timeline, the committee is currently working to develop a preliminary design program, which will be submitted by May 6, O’Shea said. This 70- to 80-page document includes a summary of the town’s visioning sessions, details on the current space available at each school, the project’s education plan and an evaluation of the two schools’ current conditions, he stated.

Since the beginning of March, the School Department has hosted four visioning sessions to allow community members an opportunity to express their views on the project. These sessions were available to school faculty, district leadership, students and the general public.

Across the four sessions, each group highlighted slightly varied priorities and challenges. Yet, many of the statements were similar in their approach to supporting students. In their sessions, both faculty and district leadership noted the unique needs of each age group and stated that students were “over-scheduled.” Faculty also highlighted student stress and high expectations, O’Shea reported.

Similarly, students requested greater autonomy during their session and noted that socialization outside the classroom as well as community pride were important to them. Community members echoed this with comments on autonomy, age-specific designs and hands-on learning experiences, according to O’Shea.

Other points raised within the sessions included prioritizing art and athletics, student and community accessibility, educator collaboration, career preparation, and the importance of outdoor access.

Staff interviews were also conducted at each school, O’Shea stated. Through these conversations, concerns for student social emotional needs, student special education needs, greater teacher collaboration and reducing space limitations were raised, as stated in O’Shea’s presentation.

Looking forward, the building committee is scheduled to review the project’s education plan and space summary program at its April 17 meeting. The committee will then vote on the final PDP report at its May 1 meeting, O’Shea said. This will allow the committee to submit the report for May 6.

“What we submit to the MSBA will be an evaluation of the possible solutions,” he said. These options are bringing Glenbrook up to code, renovating Glenbrook, building a new school at Glenbrook, renovating Williams or building a new school at Williams.

School Committee Chair Nicole Choiniere later clarified that this means Longmeadow does not need to select one of the options before submitting the PDP in May.

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