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WVN #27: High School Building Comm. and School Comm. updates

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  • waylandvoters2
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 27, 2004
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      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
      meetings.

      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
      authority.
      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
      be rejected.
      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
      be considered.

      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
      selection.

      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.

      Reminders:
      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
      two.

      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
      legal action.

      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
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