MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — The city's efforts to build a fourth elementary school took a step forward Monday.

Finance Committee members signed off on a $56.4 million bond to construct a fourth elementary school on Poirier Road.

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The city anticipates saving more than $10 million on the new school by enrolling in the Massachusetts School Building Authority's Model School program.

Last fall, the School Building Committee estimated the cost to construct a fourth elementary in the city would be about $67.5 million. The tab decreased to $56.4 million after joining the Model School program.

The program allows municipalities to use the design for a model school already constructed in the state. Mount Vernon Group was hired to use the designs it created for elementary schools in New Bedford and Athol.

Mayor Arthur Vigeant initially hoped the city would save $2 million to $3 million by joining the model school program.

"We've done much better than that," he told Finance Committee members Monday.

The project schedule is accelerated under the Model School program, reducing construction costs. School and city officials hope to begin site work this summer if funding is approved. The new school would open in fall 2020.

Officials are projecting the MSBA will reimburse Marlborough $29 million for the project. The agency is set to vote on the reimbursement April 10. Once the state approves funding, the city will have 120 days to sign off on their $27 million tab for the project.

Vigeant said joining the Model School program increased the potential state reimbursement rate by about 10 percent.

"Between these two things we made out really well for the city," said Vigeant.

The proposed new school will feature more than 30 classrooms that will house 610 students and allow fifth grade to move back to the elementary schools.

The facility will be built on an existing athletic field on Poirier Road. Reconstructing the road and a second athletic field are part of the proposal.

A handful of other sites — including Marlboro Airport, parcels on Williams, Spring and Elm streets and the Rawchuck property were considered. Those sites were either too expensive, not for sale, are classified as former farmland or are too small.

Some councilors have doubts about the site. City Councilor Donald Landers is worried about the size of the site and traffic issues with the high school nearby.

"We're taking a school and putting it where it doesn't belong," said Landers, who noted he could not vote for the bond as the project is constituted now.

School and city officials submitted a statement of interest with the MSBA a few years ago.

In their statement of interest, school officials said classrooms at its elementary schools, specifically Richer, are overcrowded. Some English-language learner classrooms hold up to 25 students at one time due to a lack of space. Instruction for some of those students is provided in shared classrooms alongside students who are not in the language program. Jaworek and Kane have similar space crunches.

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