WVN #27: High School Building Comm. and School Comm. updates
- WAYLAND VOTER'S NETWORK
July 27, 2004
Dear Wayland Voter,
Various observers submitted the following notes on last week's High
School Building Committee and School Committee
HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING COMMITTEE MEETING, JULY 22, 2004
Pending SBA legislation update provided by HSBC's project
consultants: The State Legislature has passed three bills to create
a new SBA (School Building Assistance) funding program. The governor
has until July 31 to sign them. One bill (H 4977) seeks to
eliminate, during the next three years, the backlog of 420 approved
school projects on the waiting list for funding. Another bill covers
construction reform, and the third (H 4978) creates the new SBA
A new SBA authority first would work to clear the backlog. By
early 2006 they would begin to determine new construction project
specification standards, priorities for project selection, evaluation
of specific towns' needs, rates of support, and other details. The
existing 4-year moratorium is needed to complete these steps. In
July 2007, they would begin to accept new project applications for
funding consideration. Each year there would be a fixed pot of cash
to be disbursed up front for approved projects so that recipients
would know how much funding they would receive from the state, and
how much they would need to borrow.
For the time being, it appears the new SBA's priorities,
standards, and percentages of project support from the state remain
unknown. If demand for funding exceeds dollars available, there
would be no new waiting lists formed to avoid creating a backlog like
the one that helped put the former SBA program deeply into debt. One
HSBC member expressed alarm that Wayland's project ultimately could
It appears the new legislation would not penalize a school for
starting a project before it gets approved, but moving forward would
be at a town's own risk. There appear to be no grandfathering
guarantees, i.e., there's no guarantee that a project begun during
the current moratorium would get funded and, if so, by how much.
With these unknowns, committee members asked many questions and
discussed how to proceed: where to get best information about and
analysis of the legislation, whether or not to consider what someone
called "macro-phasing" the project, whether to proceed with an
estimated range of costs despite the risks and unknowns, and whether
to create an interim plan until 2007. The consultants will prepare
preliminary material to see what a phased option 2 project could
possibly look like if part of it were begun before 2007 and the rest
after mid-2007. The School Committee would decide if phasing is to
Other agenda items discussed at the meeting:
1) Prioritization document: The meeting began with Principal Charlie
Ruopp sharing a handout dated June 15, 2004, titled "Building
Priorities considered for the upcoming High School renovation
project." It was marked 6th draft, which the committee compared
several times to an initial draft (apparently never distributed to
the public). Ruopp described the goal of having a world-class high
school, said that cutting back is difficult, and the draft is framed
by the NEASC accreditation Mission Statement because it is the
school's guiding educational document. (Wayland High has begun the
once-a-decade accreditation process set to culminate in April 2005).
The first category of priorities includes safety, health and code
compliance issues, and core academic spaces needed to provide courses
required by state statute to receive a Massachusetts high school
diploma. The second category of priorities includes non-core
academic programs, common facilities that support the academic
program and school culture, and extra-curricular activities. The
third priority is maintaining the campus style environment.
Also listed are changes already made during this current planning
phase, followed by possible project reductions and cuts.
Reference was made to a separate analysis showing why sharing
the use of the new middle school auditorium instead of replacing the
high school's Little Theater with a large new facility cannot easily
be done, but that document was not available to the public.
Committee members debated the purpose of the prioritization
document, whether it is intended to downsize the program or to be a
basis for macro-phasing the project. The option of going back to the
School Committee to revisit the charge was mentioned while some
members objected to cutting anything. Some want to see estimated
costs attached to the prioritized items in order to be able to
evaluate several possible phasing scenarios.
The committee seems hesitant and not unified about moving
forward to select an option at this time given various unknowns.
2) Utility costs analyses: Handouts were described by the
consultants. Summaries of electricity, natural gas, water, and fuel
oil usage primarily from 2003 show relatively low uses for a number
of reasons, e.g. naturally wet playing fields not needing irrigation,
no doors on bathroom stalls causing students to not use the
facilities, non-functioning gym showers, less air exchange than
required by current code, limited use of airconditioning,
collaborative bidding to get best available fuel rates, etc.
Another handout listed utility cost projections contrasting
partial airconditioning versus full airconditioning for the three
project design schemes under consideration. Greater energy
efficiency was indicated as percentage of new construction
increases. In addition to a new wastewater treatment plant, the
project will include a new irrigation well for water supply (location
to be determined), which they indicated is supported by the Water
Department. Committee members commented that the utilities
information is helpful but does not really affect design option
3) Meetings and milestones timeline: The HSBC reconsidered its
upcoming meetings schedule. Option selection continues to get
postponed (possibly Aug. 5 or Aug. 12), resulting in inadequate time
to develop all the information the committee intended to present at
the August 26 public forum. They decided to hold the forum anyway
and revamp its agenda. It was not clear whether another forum can be
scheduled during the fall given the growing backlog of tasks to
accomplish by mid-November.
Committee members then brainstormed what they need to consider
in order to be able to select a design option. Committee members
have yet to express their personal opinions about the three options.
Some seem very troubled by SBA funding unknowns. The consultants
seem to have good sources for SBA information and will provide more
analyses next week.
4) HSBC July 29 meeting possible agenda topics: SBA legislation
update, contrast options 2 and 3, estimated costs associated with
prioritized items, several possible phasing options and cost
estimates, repositioning of the Field House and track for option 3,
and preparing for August 2 meeting with the School Committee.
5) Public Comments from residents: Need to address inconsistencies in
some utilities numbers on tonight's handouts; question resulting in
learning that 70 students use the darkroom each semester; strong
request that the Finance Committee provide impact-to-taxpayer
information ASAP calculated per $100K assessed valuation to educate
Wayland residents to begin to build consensus; request not to pit
schools versus the rest of the town (30% of the households have
children in Wayland schools yet the schools consume up to 75% of the
town's budget); request not to "pablumize" project information;
clarification that the town side of the budget is finely tuned and
all departments are asked to prioritize, accept cuts and find cost-
efficiencies; suggestion that the consultants access the original
wetlands and borings documents from when the high school was first
built; question resulting in learning that test borings will be
conducted on a 100 foot grid; Charena Road neighbors adding public
safety to last week's option 3 abutter concerns because teens hang
around and people cut through area; area neighbors concerned about
odors from proposed wastewater treatment plant (5 other existing
plants in town generate odor complaints to the BOH depending on the
weather); suggestion that consultants meet with various departments
to address environmental impacts; concerns for protecting Zone II
(the entire site) as well as Zone I for the on-site Happy Hollow
drinking water wells; question resulting in learning that given site
constraints existing location is the optimum for siting the school;
resident commenting that his three children much preferred going
outdoors between classes.
Next HSBC meeting will be this Thursday, July 29, 7:30 p.m. in Town
Building, second floor School Committee meeting room.
HSBC will meet with the School Committee on Monday evening, August 2,
in Town Building, second floor School Committee meeting room, prior
to the selection of one option.
If you were unable to attend last week's HSBC meeting, a videotape
recording of the meeting will be broadcast on the Wayland cable TV
channel this Wednesday, July 28, at 7:00pm. This broadcast is made
possible by volunteer camera operator Matt Shear, in cooperation with
Jim Mullane at WayCAM.
SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING, JULY 19, 2004
Claypit Hill roof: Jim Russo, a roofing expert hired in June to
study the roof, addressed the Committee. He poked and probed the
57,000 square foot roof, finding a number of problems. The top layer
is a "single ply roofing system" installed in 1991 over many other
layers. There was ponding 24 hours after a rain, indicating pitch
problems, and seam failures which allowed leaking into the
substrate. His plan is to remove all material added to the original
structure over the years and add a layer of tapered insulation to
promote drainage before applying the impermeable surface layer. The
new roof will have a 20-year warranty (the current roof only had a 10-
year warranty) and may last 30-35 years. A contract with the lowest
bidder to install the new roof will be finalized in the next week or
High School project: Superintendent Gary Burton stated that he
expects to hear from our legislators this week, and is expecting the
grandfathering issue as well as the percentage reimbursement to be
resolved. Prioritization will be presented to the HSBC this week,
but there really are no surprises. The priorities are "obviously"
science labs, then academics, along with health and safety items.
Middle School project: Although the Middle School Building Committee
has been disbanded, the expansion project is not entirely complete
because the HVAC system is not yet acceptable. One boiler has been
repaired eleven times already. The issue is likely to result in
Enrollment: At the moment, enrollment at the High School for the
fall is eleven students less than the 903 previously projected for
this year. Elementary school enrollment is lower than projections by
five students. Burton remarked that there is virtually no movement
of students in or out of Wayland this year.
School Committee website: Chairman Lori Frieling brought up a new
matter. The Committee members had received a letter from a resident
objecting to a link on the SC website to a Town Crier opinion
column. She objected to the column and asked that the link be
removed. Frieling asked if there was any willingness by Committee
members to respond to the request.
Member Bob Gordon responded, "We should definitely not do that.
The website is ours and we should not cede authority to any third
party. The opinion piece was correct and appropriate."
Member Jeff Dieffenbach agreed. He said that what was on the
website was just a link, and people link to things all the time and
it's no big deal.
Member Heather Pineault expressed concern about linking to
opinion pieces, as opposed to sources of factual information. She
worried about the choice of links implying endorsement of positions,
and used the term "slippery slope."
Gordon said, "We are elected advocates for the schools. The
site should not be neutral, and we should not link to contrary
opinions. We should link to things we agree with. We should not
give equal weight to other sides." He reiterated that the opinion
piece was fine and nothing to apologize for.
Pineault again expressed her concern about inclusion of non-SC
opinion on the website.
Frieling summed up the group consensus as wanting to take no
action in response to the letter.
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Wayland Voters Network
Margo Melnicove, Chair