Easthampton’s new school ‘on time and on budget’

  • The elementary wing of Easthampton’s Mountain View School takes shape. The large open space will be a wall of windows. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Work progresses on Easthampton’s Mountain View School. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Gregor Helliwell, left, and Greg Sarrette work on wall panels in the new media room at Easthampton’s Mountain View School. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The elementary wing of the Easthampton’s Mountain View School. The large open space will be a wall of windows. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Terry Kondel, an employee with Adams Plumbing and Heating, walks up the stairs of the main entrance of the Easthampton’s Mountain View School. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/26/2021 7:39:22 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Construction of the new Mountain View School in Easthampton, which will serve preschool through eighth grade once completed, is “on time and on budget” to begin welcoming students in about a year.

The $109 million project is “pretty well buttoned-up,” said Tom Brown, chairman of the town’s Building Committee. “They can have some minimal heat, and there’s actually various parts of the building that are being sheetrocked, so it’s coming along right where it should be.” Construction began about a year ago.

The 176,155-square-foot school building is set to open in two phases: Middle school students are scheduled to move into the building in January 2022, while younger students are tentatively set to join them in the new building in September of that same year. The side of the building that will host elementary-age students may be completed in time to accommodate these students at an earlier date, Brown said, but they will likely finish out the school year at the existing Maple and Center Pepin elementary schools to avoid disruption.

The city’s three elementary schools are each over 100 years old, and the existing White Brook Middle School was built in the 1970s.

The aged buildings are “obviously not designed for 21st-century learning and teaching,” Brown said, speaking on the elementary schools specifically,” so we’ve known for years that we needed to do something with our schools.”

The city determined that “at the end of the day, the best, most cost-effective option” was to build one new school to host all Easthampton students below the high school level, Brown said.

Mountain View School will include features such as teacher stations with interactive whiteboards; outdoor views in every classroom; increased storage; breakout spaces; a multiuse sports field; a running track; and improved security systems. The elementary and middle school sections of the building are designed to be mostly separate, with each side having its own entrance to the cafeteria and gym spaces.

About 60% of the building’s funding will be financed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority, according to Brown, while the city will pay the remaining 40%. Easthampton voters approved a spending override at a 2018 special election.

White Brook is set to be demolished after the new school’s completion, while the city will acquire the elementary school buildings and determine their next use. According to Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle, the city is working with a consultant to request proposals and allow bids on the buildings, and will use community feedback “to figure out the path forward.”

“It will be interesting to see what the scope is and how we do outreach,” LaChapelle said. “It’s been a real challenge in COVID, and I’m hoping that with warm weather and people masked and socially distanced, we can get creative” to involve the community in the process.

With the coming completion of Mountain View School, “Easthampton should be proud of the fact that they will have state of the art facilities for their preschool through 12th (grade) students,” Brown said, noting that the city opened a new high school in 2013, “so it should be a great learning environment for every student.”


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