Officials Celebrate Groundbreaking for Construction of 2 Watertown Schools

Watertown school and town officials put shovels in the ground at the official start of the construction project Cunniff Elementary School. The ceremony also marked the beginning of the Hosmer School project. Standing next to the first of Watertown schools to be torn down and replaced with a state-of-the-art facility, Watertown School and Town officials celebrated the beginning of what will be several years of construction at school sites around town. Officials posed in hardhats, holding shovels during the official groundbreaking of the project at Cunniff Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon. The ceremony also marked the start of the project at Hosmer Elementary School, which will take place simultaneously.

Virtual Meeting About Hosmer School Project Planned, New Building Project Website

A rendering of what the new Hosmer Elementary School will look like. The Watertown Public Schools will host a meeting about the upcoming construction project at Hosmer School. The district also has a new School Building Project website. The website covers the projects at Watertown’s three elementary schools, and can be viewed by clicking here. The Watertown Public Schools sent out the following information:

The new Hosmer Elementary School is coming soon to your neighborhood!

First in the State: Council Funds Building Two Net Zero Energy Schools; No Override

The latest rendering of the new Cunniff Elementary School, with the solar array in the parking lot. The Town Council, Watertown School officials, designers and green energy advocates celebrated the completion of what looked like a pipe dream just a few years ago: building two schools that will create enough electricity to cover their energy needs, and pay for it without raising property taxes. Architect Scott Dunlap from Ai3 congratulated the Town for building the first Net Zero school in Massachusetts. The schools will also make other history. “They will be the first Net Zero elementary schools in New England,” Dunlap said.

Elementary School Projects Preparing for COVID-19 Issues; Will be Highly Energy Efficient

The latest rendering of the new Cunniff Elementary School, with the solar array in the parking lot. Watertown will build two new elementary schools and, despite an estimated $1 million for additional costs of construction during the COVID-19 outbreak, the project came in under budget. The new Cunniff and Hosmer elementary schools will have enough solar panels to make them net-zero-energy buildings. Wednesday night, the School Building Committee voted to approve the hiring of Brait Building Corp. to construct the new Cunniff and Hosmer elementary schools.

Bids on Elementary School Projects Under Budget, But COVID-19 Creates Additional Costs

The latest rendering of the new Cunniff Elementary School, with the solar array in the parking lot. The bids on the construction projects at two of Watertown’s elementary schools came in millions of dollars below budget, but the requirements for working in the COVID-19 world will mean some added costs. Hosmer and Cunniff schools will start construction in June, and the bids were recently opened, said Town Council President Mark Sideris. The project budget estimated the cost of the two schools at just over $100 million including the cost of adding solar on the school roofs ($5 million), Sideris said. “The good news is low bidder came in at $92,335,000 and all the solar came in at $2.6 million,” Sideris said.

Two Locations to be Considered for New Watertown High School

An illustration of how Watertown High School could be built on both sides of Common Street. In this scenario, the main academic building replaces the former Phillips School, while the gym, auditorium and Senior Center go on the current WHS site. The current site and the Victory Field complex will be the two sites considered for the location of the new Watertown High School, but not Moxley Field or other properties in town. Last week, the School Building Committee voted unanimously to send the preliminary design program to the Massachusetts School Building Authority. In prior meetings, the architects have presented mock ups of what a new school could look like on various sites, but Dunlap said that was just for demonstration.

Building Committee Narrowing Sites for New Watertown High School Soon

An illustration of how Watertown High School could be built on both sides of Common Street. In this scenario, the main academic building replaces the former Phillips School, while the gym, auditorium and Senior Center go on the current WHS site. The black white triangle is the historic cemetery next to WHS. The final decision on the site of the new Watertown High School is still months away, but the final list of places to be considered will be decided by the end of February. Architects and school officials have been looking at possible places where the new WHS could be built. They considered Town owned properties large enough to build a high school.

Residents Disagree Over Spot for New Watertown High School

An illustration of how a new high school building with a four story academic wing could fit on the current WHS site. Architect Scott Dunlap stressed this is just a mock up to see if it would fit, not a design. Residents attending Tuesday’s Community Forum about the new Watertown High School project could not agree on which of the locations they would like to see the new school built.

The two most likely spots are the current WHS location on Columbia Street or building a school on part of the Victory Field complex on Orchard Street. Designers have eliminated the possibility of building on the Moxley Field site because it is too small, and said renovating the current building would be more costly than erecting a new school. Also, the design of the school, which dates back to the 1920s, would not work for modern teaching techniques.