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WVN #28: Latest words on high school project

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  • waylandvoters2
    WAYLAND VOTER S NETWORK August 4, 2004 Dear Wayland Voter, Various observers submitted the following notes on last week s High School Building Committee
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 2004
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      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
      meeting.

      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
      otherwise."

      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
      extra costs.

      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
      million).

      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
      pool.

      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.

      Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to your
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      Wayland Voters Network
      Margo Melnicove, Chair
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