File photo: Andover Public Schools

Chairman Mark Johnson told a community forum Monday the Andover High School Building Committee will narrow the choices for a new high school to two when it meets at 7:50 a.m. Thursday.

After the committee chooses between the two remaining plans for new construction, it will have one preliminary plan for a renovation of the existing school and one for a new school. Those plans will be priced out before they are presented to the select board, school committee and finance committee later this year.

Barring setbacks or delays, a special town meeting would be asked to approve an override to borrow money for the school next January, with site work beginning shortly after final approval. While the project — which is moving forward without state funding from the Massachusetts School Building Authority –would be the most expensive taxpayers have been asked to approve in Andover’s history, preliminary cost estimates will not be ready for another month.

“We have been reluctant to come out with the cost, because we don’t know it,” Johnson said Monday.

Johnson has stressed those costs would be “high level” preliminary estimates. Final estimates would not come until this fall. The committee will ask town meeting to approve schematic design funds in May, which would determine specific construction costs by November.

The cost will be impacted by whether the building committee opts for a renovation or new construction, and whether the new construction includes a parking garage and whether the committee opts to repair the Collins Center or replace it with an auditorium in the new school.

Also on Monday, Johnson said the committee has also staked out the footprints for the two new school construction options at AHS. He invited forum attendees to visit the site, but asked they do not do so during school hours.

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