WVN #28: Latest words on high school project
- WAYLAND VOTER'S NETWORK
August 4, 2004
Dear Wayland Voter,
Various observers submitted the following notes on last week's High
School Building Committee meeting and this week's School Committee
HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING COMMITTEE MEETING, Thursday, July 29, 2004
Members of the HSBC took time to discuss the charge that their
committee was given by the School Committee.
[Following is the section of the HSBC Charge under discussion:
Phase I: Conceptual and Schematic Design Development
1.1 5.1 Charge
To determine the most cost-efficient solution for the facility needs
of Wayland High School necessary to house its current and future
student population, while providing the instructional spaces (and
related areas) for educational programs of the highest quality now
and into the foreseeable future, and to develop a schematic design to
provide an adequate estimate of total project cost for architectural
drawings, construction, and furnishing.]
Highlights of the HSBC's discussion follow.
Per School Committee direction, the HSBC has proceeded with their
charge without concern for project cost, what the town can afford,
impact on the taxpayer, and the state's School Building Assistance
program that prohibits review or approval of new SBA projects until
after July 1, 2007. There have never been any budget guidelines.
One member commented, "The HSBC is not making any judgments about
what the town can or cannot afford." Another member observed that
other people will wrangle with the financial impact and implications
of the project, not the HSBC.
Per School Committee direction, the HSBC options support
an "education program" as defined by school administration and
teaching staff (i.e., the kind of space those individuals feel is
needed to execute the education of Wayland students). All three
options are based on the same specification, that is, the space
desired by school administration and teaching staff. The estimated
costs of the three options are close to each other with an average
$55 million construction cost price tag. There is no prioritization
of relative needs in the three options. Prioritization is not part
of the committee's charge
Per School Committee direction, the HSBC will select an option that
it views as cost efficient between each of their three current
concept designs. Committee members used the terms cost efficient and
cost effective interchangeably.
In preparation for their meeting with the School Committee on Monday,
August 2, HSBC Chair Lea Anderson stated that she planned to tell the
School Committee that "we (HSBC) are at a crossroads because the
options did not differ significantly in terms of price. It is now
obvious that the only way to lower costs is to reduce the scope of
the education program. We are reluctant to reduce the education
program because I personally don't think that it is our job to do
that unless we get direction from the School Committee to do that.
We are proceeding with our charge as stated unless we hear
While the HSBC will not be selecting an option until after their Aug.
2 meeting with the School Committee, there was some discussion of how
members viewed the basis for selection. Anderson stated that she
was "not going to make a decision because of second guessing what I
think the taxpayers are willing to support. I am going to make my
decision based on our charge which is the education program, what do
we have to build to meet it, and what is the cost effective way to do
that." Another member championed that the committee should follow
its charge and present "the product of what we were charged to do."
The committee discussed a staging or phasing approach, i.e., breaking
the project into a series of smaller projects over a protracted
period of time. This was generally regarded as more expensive in the
long run, disruptive of the teaching program, and not within the
purview of their charge to recommend something that does not meet
the "educational program" in a cost efficient way.
The architect presented further revisions to Option 3 (all new
construction) that, among other things, addressed abutter concerns
about noise and lights if the football field were relocated closer to
their homes as in a previous scheme.
There was considerable speculative discussion of the new School
Building Assistance bill that Gov. Romney signed recently.
FOLLOWING THEIR AUG. 2 MEETING WITH THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE, THE HSBC
WILL MEET ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, TO SELECT AN OPTION (7:30PM, TOWN
BUILDING, SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING ROOM, 2ND FLOOR).
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 tonight, Wednesday, August 4, at 7:00 pm. This broadcast is
made possible by volunteer camera operator Matt Shear, in cooperation
with Jim Mullane at WayCAM.
SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING (with HSBC reps) Monday, August 2, 2004
This meeting of the School Committee was primarily devoted to meeting
with Lea Anderson, head of the High School Building Committee, and
the architect and project manager for the project. Anderson led off
by saying her committee was shocked by the price tag, and the fact
that all three options had virtually the same high price tag, but it
now appeared that the only way to cut the price was by cutting
the "educational program." Her committee does not see that as within
their authority. If it is done it must come from the School
Committee, though she hoped it wouldn't happen.
One of the architects from HMFH spoke to their latest thinking on
phasing and accommodating the concerns of Charena Farms neighbors
regarding lights and noise. He estimated that phasing would add $3-4
million to the overall project. If Option 3 (all new construction)
is chosen the new construction could be consolidated toward the Field
House, at some cost to the "campus feel" of the plan. Dick Amster
from Turner (the project manager) agreed that phasing would involve
The discussion segued into the content of the newly signed School
Building Assistance legislation. Apparently there is a 40% floor on
the reimbursement rate written into the new law. Interpreting what
this means for Wayland is somewhat difficult because new rules will
not be drafted until early 2006, but under the old rules
approximately 200,000 square feet would have been considered
reimbursable given the number of students, according to Amster, and
the old allowance of $190/square foot will likely be increased to
allow for inflation. (During the Public Comment period it was
clarified that, given a total project of about $55 million, these
numbers probably translate into a net cost to the Town of under $40
SC Chairman Lori Frieling turned the discussion to the charge to the
HSBC, currently to satisfy the educational program in the most cost-
effective way. SC member (and liaison to the HSBC) Fred Knight said
that we now know the basics of SBA, so we should charge ahead. There
is some risk in not knowing what the new regulations will allow, but
we will know in January of 2006, when our architectural drawings
presumably will be available as a first draft.
Member Bob Gordon agreed. "We are in the best of all possible
worlds," he said. "We know we will get at least 40% and not be
penalized for starting early. Now that we know that, why consider
phasing?" Knight and member Heather Pineault agreed that minimal
additional work on phasing should be done, as it now appears that the
net cost to the town of doing the entire project at once will be in
the "acceptable" range of $30-40 million.
Gordon continued: "Shouldn't we get this to the voters as soon as
possible? Then if the voters turn it down, a trimmed down proposal
could be presented as soon as April."
A general discussion followed re. whether the School Committee wants
to approve option selection by the HSBC. The consensus was to trust
the judgment of the HSBC, since the SC sees no reason to change the
charge, given the acceptability (in their judgment) of the cost of
all three options.
In the Public Comment period, Steve Breit, member of the HSBC but
speaking as "Citizen Breit," asked the School Committee to consider
whether the competition gym (a new structure included in all three
options) is really worth it. He suggested that much cheaper
alternatives, such as better stands in the Field House, might largely
accomplish the goals of the new gym. He said he believes that the
money would be much better spent on a new swimming pool, and that it
is disgraceful for a school system like Wayland not to have a decent
Mark Santangelo disagreed, saying that the gym would be much more
heavily used than the new auditorium (which is also included in all
three options). He suggested eliminating the new auditorium as a
cost saving measure.
The School Committee took no action on either suggestion.
Reminder: High School Building Committee members are expected to
select the one design option with which they will proceed, at their
next meeting, Thursday, August 5, 7:30pm, Town Building, School
Committee meeting room, 2nd floor.
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Wayland Voters Network
Margo Melnicove, Chair