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WVN # 41: School Population Down, Ballot Date Set

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  • waylandvoters
    Wayland Voters Network October 22, 2004 Dear Wayland Voter: The following notes on last Monday s School Committee meeting were submitted by WVN subscriber Tom
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 22, 2004
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      Wayland Voters Network
      October 22, 2004

      Dear Wayland Voter:

      The following notes on last Monday's School Committee meeting were
      submitted by WVN subscriber Tom Sciacca, and the notes from the October
      14 High School Building Committee meeting were submitted by Michael
      Short, WVN Treasurer.

      NOTICE: HIGH SCHOOL OVERRIDE BALLOT HAS BEEN SET BY
      SELECTMEN FOR JANUARY 25, WITH SPECIAL TM ON JANUARY 27.

      HIGH SCHOOL POPULATION TO PEAK AT 969.

      MINIMAL PROJECT WOULD COST $37 MILLION.

      School Committee 10/18/04

      SCHOOL POPULATION: The School Committee discussed enrollments.
      System wide enrollments this year are 16 lower than projections, and are
      projected to be the same next year as this. All Metrowest schools are seeing
      much lower kindergarten enrollments. Superintendent Gary Burton
      speculated that more parents are sending their kids to private full-day
      kindergartens rather than Wayland‚s three hour version. (Editor‚s note: would
      this apply to all Metrowest schools?)

      Member Heather Pineault asked whether the lower population numbers
      should impact the new High School proposal. Member and HSBC liaison
      Fred Knight responded that the planned capacity should not be reduced
      because we do not know what will happen in the distant future. He also
      argued that the last ten percent of capacity costs considerably less than 10%
      of the project cost. Member Bob Gordon added that they are building for 50
      years, and they can't react to "short term fluctuations".

      Pineault went on to note that, looking at the current year's population
      breakdown by grade and taking four year cohorts projected into the future,
      she sees a peak of 969 (in 2009) and then a decline (to 816 in 2013, when
      the present kindergarten students will be high school freshmen). "How do I
      justify that (sticking to the 1100-1200 student capacity high school plan) to
      people?" she asked. Knight responded that while building for 1000 students
      would be minimal, they want to have "spacious" accommodations at 1000
      (that is, 80% of capacity). Gordon again chimed in, saying underbuilding
      would be irresponsible.

      BUDGETING: The Committee kicked off the FY06 budget process by adopting
      budget guidelines. Administrators will be asked to come up with a wish list,
      which Burton will pare down to "real needs".

      BALLOT & WARRANT ARTICLE ON HS DESIGN MONEY: Since the
      Selectmen have now scheduled these for January 25 and 27th, Gordon
      exhorted the Committee to insist that the High School article be first on the
      warrant. This would avoid any inconvenience to those who only attend Town
      Meeting to vote on their special interest by not forcing them to deal with any
      other Town business.


      HSBC Oct 14

      "MINIMUM COST" PROJECT: $37 MILLION


      Months ago taxpayers asked the High School Building Committee to consider
      a low-cost alternative to the $55 million project it favors. The HSBC issued its
      response on Oct. 14, calling it a stopgap and dismissing it as a bad idea.

      Turner Construction Co. estimated that it would cost about $36.9 million to
      bring existing buildings up to code and add a classroom building "to hold the
      expanded student body."

      Two years ago an earlier group, the High School Feasibility Study Committee,
      estimated that bringing the campus up to code would cost $11.7 million.
      Some observers suggested that an additional $10 million or so might allow a
      new building with science labs.

      Dick Amster of Turner made it clear that his company, at least, won't do it for
      that price.

      The so-called stopgap plan would be designed to prolong the life of the
      buildings by only 10 years, he said. And because little of it would be eligible
      for state aid, the best Wayland could hope for might be a total cost to
      taxpayers of $33 million. Nobody disagreed.

      "Clearly it's not in keeping with the mandate we were given," said HSBC
      member Eric Sheffels. The School Committee had charged its hand-picked
      HSBC to meet the needs of the "program" proposed by school administrators.
      As the HSBC acknowledged, it wasn't given a budget. The result is a proposal
      that the committee plans to promote as a campus designed to last for 50
      years.

      HMFH Architects showed drawings providing more detail on what the new
      campus might look like.

      "It looks like a factory," said one observer after seeing an elevation (two-
      dimensional head-on view) of the proposed academic building two stories
      high, several hundred feet long and containing 52 classrooms plus auxiliary
      spaces. In fact it is more complex than a long, narrow rectangle.

      Still, replacing seven smaller buildings with two much larger structures would
      change the topography of the campus as well as the atmosphere. To set a
      new academic building into a hill north of existing buildings would require
      carving 11,000 cubic yards out of the slope.

      Other highly visible changes would include a locked emergency access road
      though the residential neighborhood to the north, a waste water treatment
      building and perhaps a stop light at the entrance to the campus.

      Superintendent Gary Burton reported to the committee that Wayland is likely
      to receive no more than $300,000 of the $4 million in reimbursement
      promised by the state for earlier school building projects. Those projects are
      among 450 approved between 1988 and 1992. The state hasn't paid any of
      the promised reimbursement and, according to Burton, will probably pay less
      than 10 cents on the dollar to clear that backlog.

      The new Massachusetts School Building Assistance plan calls for clearing
      another backlog, about 420 other projects approved in recent years. Only
      after June 2007 will the state begin considering new projects such as
      Wayland's.

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