Light at the end of the tunnel: Westport breaks ground on new middle-high school

SE Mass

WESTPORT, Mass. (WPRI) — In a project that’s been years in the making, crews have broken ground on a new joint middle-high school in Westport.

An official groundbreaking ceremony took place Tuesday morning on Old County Road, where the former middle school was located.

Demolition on the school began in December 2018, roughly five years after it was closed due to the discovery of PCBs.

The contaminants were first discovered in 2011. Actions were taken to fix the issue, but the decision was ultimately made to knock down the building and start over.

Since the closure of the Westport Middle School, students have been strategically placed in classrooms throughout the district.

Fifth and sixth graders were moved to the elementary school, seventh and eighth graders were moved to the high school, and some students at the Alice A. Macomber School attended classrooms in “pods” that were placed on the property right next to the school.

Although construction is just beginning, some see this as a light at the end of the tunnel.

The 187,000 square foot school is costing $97 million. Roughly 40% will be covered by a state grant. The rest will come from taxpayers who overwhelmingly approved a debt exclusion in February 2018.

The facility will feature a two-story building for 860 students in grades 5-12.

Eyewitness News is told it will be state-of-the-art and feature a sprawling sports complex complete with two basketball courts, a community walking track, a weightlifting/dance studio, and locker rooms.

Outside, there will be five tennis courts and fields for softball, baseball, soccer, and field hockey.

At the groundbreaking, Dr. Gary Reese, Superintendent of Westport Schools said, “Our students will be better prepared to become productive and contributing members of society as a result of the new and innovative learning opportunities they will experience in the new building.”

Select Board member Shana Shufelt added, “So many people have come together to make this happen from the people who had to imagine it in the first place to the people who had to get out the vote and their tireless efforts and we really appreciate that.”

Boston-based Jonathan Levy Architects was chosen to come up with the design.

The Westport Middle-High school is expected to be open to students in the Fall of 2021.

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