FITCHBURG — Take a look at some of the projects underway at Fitchburg Public School facilities throughout the city. Assistant School Superintendent of Finance and Operations Jeremy Roche presented a progress report for the Crocker Elementary School construction and many other ongoing projects district-wide during a meeting shortly before classes began this academic year.
Crocker Elementary School and Crocker Field projects
Site work has been moving quickly for the Crocker Elementary School project despite all the rain and work crews were scheduled to do work on the foundation throughout the summer. Frame construction was expected to begin in September and is expected to be ready for the 2025-2026 school year. The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MASC) is funding 55% of the $76 million project.
The Crocker Restoration Committee, city of Fitchburg, and Fitchburg Public Schools are partnering and have secured the funds necessary to upgrade the field, track, and lights at historic Crocker Field. The $3.1 million project is moving forward with full funding from the city, the schools, and significant donations coordinated by the Crocker Field Restoration Committee.
Saying goodbye to the analog phones
An internet-based phone system is being added to all schools in the district as the analog phone system is beginning to fail and does not meet federal and state emergency safety requirements, as required in Alyssa’s Law and Ray Baum’s Law, according to school officials.
The entire system is being upgraded to an internet-based phone system, Voice Over IP, with all new phones starting in July with Longsjo, then the high school, and South Street Early Learning Center shortly after. Each school takes a week to three weeks to install depending upon facility size and the number of phone lines. All schools’ phones will be upgraded before the end of the first half of the year.
Energy Efficiency, comfort improvements to HVAC
Engineers contracted by the school are developing a plan to significantly update the HVAC systems at three schools. The project’s goal is to provide a more comfortable and energy efficient environment. With the work expected to begin during the school year, the project engineers are still assessing the needs at each school and have submitted schematic designs so far. The project costs are likely to reach $5 million and will be covered by two grants.
Solar canopy to cut HS electricity costs in half
In a bid to meet the 2050 Net Zero federal and state guidelines, Fitchburg Public Schools have decided to add a solar canopy at the high school. School officials say the canopy will produce nearly 50% of the electricity consumed at the entire school site and is expected to save between $1-2 million over the next 25 years.
The canopy will be among the many other solar arrays in the school system including at Reingold, Memorial, Longsjo, and, in 2025, the new Crocker Elementary School. School Committee members discussed the new solar canopy’s projected energy savings, the replacement of defective panels, and the life expectancy of the canopy. The school system collaborated with the city of Fitchburg Facilities Department to analyze additional methods to reduce energy consumption while saving funds.
Surveillance System Upgrades
Fitchburg Schools continues collaborative work with the Fitchburg Police Department and several other partners, in addition to the district Safety Task Force, to develop a comprehensive surveillance and security system. The general goal is to completely modernize the external and internal hardware and software, all of which in full compliance with Ray Baum’s, Alyssa’s, and Kari’s laws; those designed to protect all school community members.