Andover High School Building Committee Chairman Mark Johnson (file photo/Dave Copeland)

The Andover High School Building Committee had its final meeting Thursday morning, ending it with a unanimous vote to dissolve following last month’s rejection of the $451.5 million new school project put an end to the committee’s work.

Special town meeting shot down the committee’s request for $1.3 million to complete a detailed design of the school. At the same time, Andover’s legislative body approved $500,000 to study around $50 million in possible improvements to prolong the life of the existing school.

The building committee said the schematic design would have given a more accurate price tag, and voted to recommend special town meeting approve both measures to provide the most accurate comparison between the two strategies. But campaigns by opponents and proponents of the new school positioned the meeting as an either-or decision.

“It’s unfortunate that we did not have a final project with a final cost to bring to town meeting for an ultimate discussion, but [special] town meeting voted and, as a result of that vote, we will move on,” said Mark Johnson, who had chaired the building committee since its inception in the summer of 2002. “And I think the focus at this point would be on the interim or bridge solution to see how many aspects of the education plan that can meet.”

Johnson and one other member of the building committee will be appointed to the Permanent Town Building Committee, which is overseeing the study.

“Obviously I’m disappointed, as I know you are, in the vote at town meeting,” Joel Blumstein, who chairs the West Elementary School building committee, said following the committee’s dissolution vote. “The odds, frankly, were stacked against you in a number of ways. So my hope is, or at least my prediction is the [study] will show, as we’ve seen previously, that there’s really a limited amount that can be accomplished in terms of the needs of the high school with a $50 million project.”

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