The Towns of Ayer and Shirley were facing dramatic drops in enrollment, due mostly to the closing of the neighboring Fort Devens military base. The Towns formed a new District in an effort to leverage assets, and to preserve enrollment. As such, the initial scope was a combined Middle and High School grades 6-12. With many students opting out to attend out-of-district schools, a challenge emerged; the educational culture must be redefined to bring students back.
The team and School Building Committee agreed – simple aesthetic upgrades would do little to force a shift in educational philosophy. However, due to the required increase in space requirements demanded by a combined middle / high school model, Regional leadership felt the estimated project value was growing beyond what was supportable by the sending communities. Together, the team evaluated options by rethinking the logic of increasing enrollments and the current High School’s physical attributes, then stepped back and reviewed the District’s stock of schools. This exercise re-evaluated the 10-year-old Middle School and found that a better solution was to build a High School-only option to retain the existing core athletic and theater components. By treating the site as a campus, open pathways and connections were formed from early education at the Page Hilltop School through grade 12. Leveraging the existing building’s assets was key to creating a true 21st Century educational plan concept. The result saved state and sending communities approximately $20 million, while allowing for a transformative solution to retain students in the District.
The project consisted of a 52,000 sf classroom wing addition, and a 92,000 sf phased and occupied renovation of the remaining c.1962 facility. The USGBC has recognized the project as having achieved LEED Silver certification.
Owner Ayer Shirley Regional School District
SQ. FT. 130,000