Design Work Halted on Planned D-Y Middle School

SOUTH YARMOUTH – The Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School Committee has halted design work for the new regional middle school due to a threat of possible litigation from the Town of Yarmouth.

More than $44 million in reimbursement money from the Massachusetts School Building Authority is at stake for the $117 million facility as the school district will soon have to sign an agreement stating there are no pending lawsuits related to the project.

The authority approved the school on December 12 and the district has 120 days from that date to sign the document, but the district can file for an extension.

Yarmouth selectmen are threatening a lawsuit against the school district over its decision to bypass town meetings and put approval of the school to a districtwide vote.

The new school passed by just 25 votes on December 4 with the majority of support for the project coming from voters in Dennis.

The town’s disagreement over the vote comes from a provision in the district’s regional agreement which allows for town meeting action on any incurred debt.

School Committee Chair Jeni Landers said it took years for the project to move up to the top of the state’s reimbursement list.

“If we don’t take this $44 million that is being offered to us now it could take decades or never to get this kind of money again from the state,” Landers said.

The school committee asked the architects working on design plans to temporarily stop working while it determines what the next steps are.

“To be clear, the only piece of this project that the Yarmouth Board of Selectmen have essentially halted with their threat of litigation is the reimbursement from the MSBA,” Landers said.

If the project moves forward without the MSBA reimbursement, funding the school would cost both towns a total of $117 million.

The school district has not received any documentation from any pending litigation, just a threat from Yarmouth officials.

The Yarmouth board met in executive session Tuesday, but an outcome is not known.

The school committee has also met in executive session.

“We are seeking legal counsel,” Landers said. “I’m sure they are working with their legal counsel and we are just waiting to see if we get served those actual papers.”

Landers said whether the legal action is threatened or pending means the same thing to the MSBA.

Plans call for the school to be built on district-owned land behind Station Avenue Elementary School in South Yarmouth.

If built, the new school would replace Nathaniel H. Wixon School in South Dennis and Mattacheese Middle School in West Yarmouth.


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