WEYMOUTH — Trustees have the green light to begin drawing up plans to cover Abigail Adams High School for the town’s preschool program.
The school committee recently voted for administrators to begin the conceptual design process to use Adams Middle School for the Johnson Early Childhood Center, a family engagement center, and district administrative offices.
School officials have spent the past few months determining whether it makes sense to turn Adams Middle School into the city’s ninth elementary school, as planned, or considering other uses for the building.
School superintendent Robert Wargo said administrators narrowed down the options to three: turn Adams School into an elementary school as planned; use it for the Johnson Early Education Center; or house all kindergarten classes there as well as the Johnson Center. The three options included moving district offices there and adding a family engagement center.
Some members of the school committee had expressed concern about the cost of converting the school into an early childhood center and how the plans would affect enrollment and overcrowding in the city’s elementary schools.
But after hearing from staff, committee members said they felt comfortable moving forward with the plan.
Member Carrie Palazzo said she had visited Johnson and it was clear Adams would provide plenty of opportunities for the program.
“You can’t help but think that it would be beneficial for every student,” she said. “There are so many great things that we could really celebrate to get more people there.”
Member Kathy Curran said she’s always nervous about space issues in elementary schools, but she’s confident administrators are working on it.
“The ninth primary school is definitely not the option…but we need to address the overcrowding in the other eight schools,” she said.
The future of Abigail Adams School – which housed fifth and sixth graders – has been thrown into question with plans for a new Chapman Middle School, which will open in the fall. The new school will serve sixth, seventh and eighth grades. The fifth grade is passed to primary schools.
In a 2019 special election, voters overwhelmingly approved a temporary tax hike to pay for the new college. The city will raise $96.9 million through the debt foreclosure waiver and then cover the rest of the $164.2 million project.
The city is also renovating Adams School, though that work has been put on hold while officials determine how the school will be used. The budget for this work is approximately $4.53 million.
Deputy Superintendent Brian Smith shared a letter from the Massachusetts School Building Authority stating that using Adams for a preschool program should not affect state funding for Chapman.