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New Easthampton high school building is more than a dozen years in the making

The city’s new $39.2 million high school building is the culmination of more than a dozen years of planning and organizing by Easthampton residents, school and city officials. At the start, the effort included elementary school building needs, as well, but the Massachusetts Building Authority — which is paying 64 percent of the costs of the new high school — directed the city to choose a single project for funding.

Below is a timeline of events leading up to today’s first day of classes in the new building on Williston Ave. The old 52-year-old high school, which sits on the same site as the new building, will be torn down after the school year ends. It will be the first school building the city has razed.

1998: Futures Committee forms to explore school building projects in Easthampton.

2002: The Massachusetts School Building Authority imposes a three-year moratorium on state-funded school building projects.

2005: Easthampton submits proposals for two building projects to the state, one elementary and one high school. Voters pass a debt-exclusion override to fund planning of those project after a campaign led by The Committee for Better Schools.

2007: At the direction of the state, the city chooses the high school as its priority project and Easthampton is placed in the funding pipeline.

2008: Easthampton’s School Building Committee develops a master plan for a new high school after reviewing two renovation options. The plan locates a new building on the same eight-acre parcel as the old high school.

2009: The city selects Caolo & Bieniek of Chicopee as architects and Strategic Building Solutions of Connecticut as owner’s project manager.

March 2010: The state approves the city’s high school building project and agrees to pay 64 percent of construction costs.

May 2010: Voters approve an $18.1 million debt exclusion override for a new high school by a nearly 3-1 margin.

December 2010: Planners meet with residents of abutting properties on Garfield Street to discuss concerns related to construction.

April 2011: A bid for construction of the new high school is awarded to Fontaine Bros Inc. of Springfield, the same firm that built the town’s Public Safety Complex. Planners announce the project is on schedule and $3 million under budget.

May 27, 2011: Groundbreaking ceremony held for the new building.

June 2011-January 2013: Construction of the new high school building continues on schedule and under budget.

March-April 2013: Training sessions for teachers and tours for students conducted in new building.

Spring break, 2013: School operations move to the new building, with teachers set to move in Monday and students to begin classes in the new building today.

April 26: The annual Mr. Easthampton contest is the first community event to be held in the new high school.

April 27: A community Open House to be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the new building.

June 7: Graduation ceremonies to be held in the new building.

Summer 2013: Old high school building is demolished.

Fall 2013: A public ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned, including the laying of a time capsule and plaque.

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Easthampton finally opens 21st-century high school

Thursday, April 25, 2013

EASTHAMPTON – When former longtime Easthampton High School Principal Jeffrey Sealander looks at the city’s old high school just a few hundred yards from the new $39.2 million school on Williston Avenue, he imagines “the way sailors in the Navy must feel when a ship is decommissioned. “You look at the two buildings side by side and you get a … 1

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