Groundbreaking for Millis Elementary School December 8th

J.D. O’Gara
Issue Date: 
December, 2017
Article Body: 

It’s official. A new elementary school will indeed be built in Millis. And it will officially begin on December 8th, with a groundbreaking ceremony at 9:30 a.m.
At the fall town meeting on November 6, 2017, after facing legal challenges both to the location and to the process of the original passing vote at the Spring 2017 Town Meeting, the town of Millis once again put the question of a $51.8 million override to build the new school to the town, and voters overwhelmingly, again, approved the measure, 442-21.
“I just am so grateful for all the hard work of the town boards, the Elementary School Building Committee, and especially Wayne Klocko as Chair,” says Diane Germain, Vice Chair of the Elementary School Board Committee. “It really brought everyone together, to make sure this proceeded, and we are thrilled.”
Germain says an early site package was approved by the Millis Selectmen, and construction and site work began on November 16th. Members of the project team include Tappé Architects, Agostini-Bacon Construction and Compass Project Management. According to the project website, at, the design team will continue to develop the final plans for the project and the completed construction contract, with all subcontractor bids is anticipated to be approved in late February, 2018. 
“Every two weeks, I’ll be doing what we call a ‘Look-Ahead,’ with updates on the town website and the school website, and on Facebook,” says Germain. “We’re also going to start filming whenever we can.” The first “Look-Ahead” noted that, at the end of the project, 160 trees would be planted as part of the landscaping plan.
The new Clyde Brown Elementary School move in date will be September 2019, says Germain, a time focused on to ease transition for the students.
Millis Superintendent Nancy Gustafson is also excited to see the project moving ahead.
“It’s exciting,” she says. “The ground-breaking is just a nice way to celebrate the town coming together to do something great for the children.” Gustafson says the children will be involved in the ceremony, as the second graders will be the first fifth grade class in the building. “The first step was ordering the little plastic hardhats for them,” she says.
Clyde Brown principal Jason Phelps is working with teachers to make children’s participation in the groundbreaking a learning experience.
“He’d like to have kids learn something from the ceremony about civic engagement and the workings of government on a local level, and also, they’ll be watching the construction process, so they’ll be learning a lot that way as well,” says Gustafson.
With the construction site fencing off the existing playground, Phelps has purchased a few materials to construct a “peaceful playground,” and he is also working to develop alternate physical activities that can take place on the fields, according to the Superintendent. In addition to some structured activities for recess times, says Gustafson, the goal is for kids to also have some free, creative play. “We’re brainstorming what that will look like,” she says. Weather permitting, that may include snow play, and “we’ll be teaching kids some traditional games and providing simple equipment, such as cones and jump ropes, so they can create obstacle courses – all those creative things where people will develop and make sure kids are not just standing around during recesses.