By SCOTT JACKSON
A request to borrow $8.5 million to purchase a Wollaston office building and convert it into a special education center was introduced at Monday night’s meeting of the City Council.
The bond request was referred to the council’s finance committee for consideration at a later date.
At a press conference last week, Mayor Thomas Koch and Superintendent Dr. Richard DeCristofaro announced plans to purchase the building at 180 Old Colony Ave. and renovate the three-story, 52,900-square-foot building into a new special education center that could open as soon as next fall.
The $8.5 million bond would cover the cost of purchasing and renovating the building. Eastern Nazarene College owns the building, which is located behind Central Middle School. It is home to several tenants, including the Woodward School, which is using the building on a temporary basis while its home in Quincy Center is being renovated.
The school system currently transports 152 special education students to schools outside the city, DeCristofaro said last week, at a cost of $80,000 to $100,000 annually per student, including transportation and tuition.
Koch said the new building would be able to accommodate 30 to 40 of those students, saving the city between $300,000 and $500,000 each year, even after accounting for debt service payments for the building and the cost to staff and maintain the facility. Special education students currently attended schools in Quincy could likewise be accommodated in the new facility; the building could potentially take in students from other school districts as well.
The facility would accommodate students from pre-kindergarten to middle school, officials said. Laura Owens, the assistant to the superintendent, said the categories of students with special needs who would move to the new building has yet to be determined.
“We are still in the process of figuring out what they will be,” she told The Sun.
Koch said he would like to see the City Council approve the bond before the end of December. The School Committee and school administrators would then work to determine programming for the building.