SBRC Project Update - July 2023
OAKDALE ELEMENTARY BUILDING PROJECT UPDATE
The ongoing project to address Dedham’s need for new Elementary school buildings has been moving quickly since the beginning of June, as necessary choices and decisions regarding the future of the project have come to vote in front of the Dedham School Building Rehabilitation Committee (SBRC) and the Dedham School Committee. These votes marked a critical step forward in a process that began several years ago after the need to repair or replace three substandard Dedham elementary schools – Oakdale, Greenlodge and Riverdale - was identified in the 2020 Long Term Facilities Master Plan. Currently, 700 students attend Dedham elementary schools with deficient physical spaces that are considered well below modern facility standards.
In 2021, due to the poor condition of the 120 year old Oakdale Elementary School, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) welcomed Dedham into its funding program, which could cover 30-35% of project costs. Since September of 2022, the SBRC has held over 40 meetings on the Oakdale Elementary Building project, including bi-weekly public meetings, joint meetings with the School Committee, meetings with each Dedham Parent Teacher Organization, public update meetings at each elementary school and other community informational meetings.
RECENT MEETING SUMMARIES:
Links to meeting materials, Dedham TV recordings and more can be found on the Oakdale Project Webpage - www.dedham.k12.ma.us/oakdaleproject
June 7, 2023: The School Committee voted to select a 550 student enrollment option for the new elementary school project - combining Oakdale and Greenlodge elementary schools. This decision was made in concurrence with the recommendation provided by the Dedham Interim Superintendent, which took into consideration educational impact and opportunities, student equity, fiscal management and community priorities.
June 21, 2023: The SBRC unanimously voted to eliminate the Greenlodge site as an option at a joint meeting with the School Committee. Site concerns around feasibility, specifically that it is encumbered by ledge which could impact cost and design, as well as smaller permanent open space were considered factors.
June 26, 2023: The SBRC voted in favor of situating a new 550 student elementary school at the Oakdale campus. The vote was a split decision with four members favoring Oakdale while three members voted in favor of the Capen campus on Sprague Street.
July 13, 2023: The SBRC and community members toured the Oakdale Elementary campus to review possible new school building design options, site locations and site concerns of note. Following this meeting, a four design option was developed to incorporate feedback from the tour.
July 17, 2023: After significant public comment, each SBRC member took the time to explain why they would not make a motion to rescind the June 26 vote. Jonathan Levi, the Project Architect, then presented four design options for the new school building, incorporating feedback and concerns discussed during the site tour on July 13th.
THE NEXT DECISION: DESIGN
The four proposed designs under consideration are considered preliminary and subject to change, particularly traffic flow and parking. The large size of the Oakdale campus is considered advantageous for allowing adjustments to parking, traffic flow, and for its flexibility of play and open space. Plans are in place to perform traffic studies to guide further design and development once school is back in session in September. Each structure is situated to maximize natural light for learning, potential solar power and efficiency.
The SBRC must submit a Preliminary Schematic Design to the Massachusetts School Building Authority by the end of August. The four options and short descriptions of each are available for viewing on the Oakdale Project website: www.dedham.k12.ma.us/oakdaleproject
The SBRC will be considering these designs over the coming weeks at the following public meetings:
July 31, 2023: SBRC Meeting - 7pm O’Brien Meeting Room / Zoom
Meeting will review refinements to the designs and cost estimates.
August 7, 2023: SBRC Meeting - 7pm O’Brien Meeting Room / Zoom
Meeting will review refinements to the designs and cost estimates, discuss input from the public and various Town Committees and Boards collected to date. SBRC preferred design vote may take place.
August 9, 2023: Planning Board - 6pm O’Brien Meeting Room: SBRC and Project Architect JLA presentation on project and preferred site design.
August 21, 2023: SBRC Meeting - 7pm O’Brien Meeting Room / Zoom
Meeting will review the preferred schematic report to the MSBA for approval, a significant step to securing state funding.