In 2016, the town hired the national facility assessment and planning organization MGT of America Consulting to conduct an analysis of all Andover town and school buildings, and develop a comprehensive facility plan to assist with long-term planning. The MGT study concluded the school facilities with the greatest needs were: Shawsheen Preschool, West Elementary and Doherty Middle School due to facility condition; and Andover High School due to overcrowding condition.
To gain community feedback and prioritize potential projects for these facilities, the school department conducted public forums and tours at West Elementary, Doherty and Andover High.
This process led the School Committee to submit West Elementary as a priority project for partnership with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) and, in parallel, establish the Andover High School Feasibility Study Committee to examine options for a high school project. (West Elementary was accepted to the highly competitive MSBA program in 2017, on its first submission, due to the poor condition of the facility.)
The Andover High School Facility Study Committee was formed in January 2017 and spent several years conducting a preliminary feasibility study with the firm HMFH Architects. This work initially relied up on previous space studies undertaken for AHS.
The Committee’s goals were to explore options for building improvements in these interrelated areas:
- Enhance safety and security
- Eliminate overcrowding
- Accommodate enrollment growth
- Support educational program and delivery
- Improve physical environment
- Improve site use and campus circulation
During more than 50 community and public meetings, including weekly meetings with the architects, 11 project options of varying scope were developed and considered. The options fell into three primary categories:
- safety and security upgrade only, with ongoing significant maintenance
- new addition plus major renovation of the existing school structure
- new school building, with option to maintain the field house and Collins Center as community assets
Importantly, the preliminary feasibility study did not find any option that minimally addressed both the educational delivery and the physical environment of the building for less than $100 million (in 2018 dollars).
No previous space or architectural study of Andover High had identified the extent of work required to modernize aspects of the facility that improve building systems and comfort. For example the work revealed that significant energy and HVAC improvements are only possible if both the mechanical systems and a large portion of the building exterior envelope are replaced, which alone would have cost more than $40 million back in 2018.
Additionally, this work helped to quantify the space in the current school versus modern standards, leading to the conclusion classrooms are too small in addition to being too few, and the types of spaces offered do not support modern best practices, including delivery of special education services.
In early 2022, the AHS Facility Study Committee recommended to the School Committee a Building Committee be formed to move the project toward design and construction. The School Committee then voted to have the Town Manager create the Andover High School Building Committee, with the charge of developing plans for either (a) an addition and renovation of the existing high school or (b) a new high school. This came after the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) denied Andover’s request to help fund an Andover High project for the eighth time since 2008.
The Town Manager issued a solicitation to the community, conducted interviews, and ultimately selected a Building Committee comprised of a cross-section of Andover residents and other experts with construction, educational, and financial experience. The Building Committee began its work in the summer of 2022.