EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 5, 2012

Unearthing the Future

ANDOVER — To the noise of children playing at recess and construction vehicles rumbling in the background, a group gathered outside the Bancroft Elementary School yesterday afternoon to officially mark the construction of the new $44 million school.

“The years of planning and hard work are coming to fruition and it’s exciting,” said Karen Vigurs-Stack, a parent of two children at the school. If all goes to plan, her third-grader will be one of the first students in the new building, she said.

Yesterday’s noontime ceremony was attended by teachers, parents, several students and many town and state officials, including state Treasurer Steven Grossman. The school’s chorus sang a rendition of the pledge of allegiance and the “Bancroft Song.”

A debt-exclusion override to pay for the new school was approved by residents in January 2011 after voters overwhelmingly supported the project at Special Town Meeting the month before.

While the total cost of the building is $44.7 million, the state will reimburse the town $16.8 million of that cost, lowering Andover’s share to about $27.9 million.

The new two- and three-story school is expected to hold 680 students. The building will replace the current wood-frame school built in 1969, which has well-documented structural problems.

The project was put on hold for most of the past year because of a lawsuit over the Conservation Commission’s decision to approve the project. The town ended up settling with two abutters in April.

A new access road off West Knoll Road was constructed this summer and construction workers are currently pouring the foundation of the building.

Several first-grade students were seen peering through a fence watching the construction during the ceremony. Earlier in the day, all 484 students took part in an assembly inside the gym — wearing yellow plastic hardhats — before moving outside where each student took a turn using toy shovels to symbolically move dirt into a backhoe.

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