HARVARD -- Officials are considering three different options in the search for a new building to house the town's school administration, which is looking to move out of Bromfield House.
The house currently serves as office space for eight staff members, including the superintendent's office. The house, donated to the town by Margaret Blanchard for educational purposes, requires about $685,000 in repairs -- money that the School Committee does not recommend spending.
"It just doesn't make sense to keep putting money into an old building that doesn't really serve office purposes," said School Committee Chairwoman SusanMary Redinger.
One option involves adding office space to the kindergarten wing at Hildreth Elementary School. A building assessment of the wing, which Town Meeting will weigh in on, will provide information on whether this option is feasible.
Another involves adding space for the administration in Town Hall as part of the overall renovation project.
The third option would be to rebuild on the site completely.
Both rebuilding completely and adding space to the kindergarten wing have a rough estimated cost of $700,000 to $800,000, about the same amount required to renovate the current building, said Superintendent Joseph Connelly.
The house has served well as an office, he said, but to maintain the building in the future will be costly.
"It's an old building, and right now it has a lot of limitations because it was designed as a residence, not an office building," Connelly said.
The administration would need 2,200 square feet of space, he said.
The School Committee will be discussing the best option with the Board of Selectmen, which seems supportive of rebuilding on the same spot.
"Our sense was that it seemed most efficient to build new on that very same location," said Selectman Chairwoman Marie Sobalvarro.
Yet there are still many questions around the topic, she said, including whether people are against the idea of demolishing the Bromfield House or selling the entire parcel.
If the town were to sell the land, the money could only go toward four educational purposes outlined in Blanchard's will, according to an email from town counsel to the town administrator. These include using money for the upkeep of the house, books, student scholarships and other expenses related to the Bromfield School.
In his final meeting as a six-year member of the School Committee, Keith Cheveralls urged the committee to sell the building and push for a space at Town Hall.
"I think that the highest and best use of that building is to turn it over to private and residential use," he said at the committee meeting on Monday night.
If the committee pushed the Town Hall space as the preferred option, it will gain some traction, Cheveralls said.
"I say this now because it's important to do this now before final decisions are made on the plan and that option is no longer available," he said at the meeting.
Redinger told Nashoba Publishing that the option that would happen the earliest would likely be a move be into Town Hall. But that will offer only about 1,500 square feet, forcing a few employees to relocate elsewhere, she said.
"I would imagine that even if we pick one (option), we'll still have to pursue the others for a bit," Redinger said. "We could say that we want the Bromfield House to be torn down and built anew, but that may not pass muster at some point."
Connelly said officials would try to make a decision by mid-year 2015.