SPENCER – Students may be out of school for the season but for contractors working on the addition and renovations at David Prouty High School, summer school has begun.
To start, crews are moving many items to storage including a memorial bench, a piece of granite carved in memory of a student, several plaques, trophies and awards. Those will find new permanent homes once the project is complete, according to Phil Palumbo, Project Manager at Colliers International In Agawam.
The project is underway more than a decade after school officials first began planning for renovations that never moved forward.
The 1966 building, which serves students from Spencer and East Brookfield, is outdated and no longer suitable for the educational needs of today, officials have said. There are safety concerns, expensive system failures and at times the problems have meant the school has struggled to maintain accreditation.
The new school will be a “Certified High-Performance School with enhanced energy savings features, stormwater features, outdoor learning spaces, a rooftop solar array and educational and demonstration features for the community,” according to https://dphsbuilding.com/.
In an effort to streamline the project as much as possible, classes will be held in areas of the building that aren’t under construction when students return after summer break. Once the initial phases of the construction are complete, classes will move into the renovated or newly built areas while work begins elsewhere.
“Essentially there will be 2 moves (for students),” Palumbo explained.
Those driving by the building on Route 9 will notice the construction zone being set up, trees and topsoil being removed and some demolition getting underway as the summer moves along, Palumbo said.
The first phase of the project involves the demolition of the so-called C wing, where the gym is located. A new addition will be built on the footprint of that wing and will be ready for occupancy in the summer of 2025, Palumbo said.
Following that, students will attend classes in the addition as crews set about renovating other areas of the building, knocking down the B wing and gutting and renovating the A wing, near the school’s entrance.
All of this means there will be “constant site work” happening at Prouty until the school is completed and ready to reopen for the 2026-2027 school year if all goes according to plan.
Seeing the work underway is a relief for many who have waited for years to see the project move forward.
Getting funding for the renovations and new construction was the biggest challenge, Palumbo said.
The total budget for the project includes $111.6 million approved last year by voters in Spencer and East Brookfield, $46.8 million of which will be reimbursed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).