WVN #51: HSBC Consultants' Final Report
- Wayland Voters Network
December 3, 2004
Dear Wayland Voter,
We would like to send absentee ballot applications to a large number
of households, because unfortunately the majority of Selectmen voted
against including the application form in their recent town-wide
mailing about the Jan. 25 election on the high school proposal.
If you have not already contributed to WVN, we ask you to please
consider helping us reach more voters. Any amount is welcome. All
money received will be used for printing, postage and other expenses
related to informing voters and promoting voter participation. (WVN
is a registered Political Action Committee. In the PAC's financial
reports to the Town Clerk, we are required to identify by name anyone
who contributes more than $50 in a calendar year; contributions of
$50 or less are listed anonymously and in the aggregate.)
Please be assured that no contribution will benefit any individual.
Make checks payable to Wayland Voters Network and send to:
Michael Short, WVN Treasurer
265 Pelham Island Rd.
Wayland, MA 01778
(Thank you! Your ongoing support is greatly appreciated!!)
The following report on the School Committee meeting of Nov. 29 was
prepared by WVN subscriber Tom Sciacca. The first part of the
meeting, taped by intrepid WayCAM volunteer Richard Turner, will be
broadcast on the Wayland cable channel, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m.
SCHOOL COMMITTEE 11/29: HSBC CONSULTANTS' FINAL REPORT
This regular meeting of the School Committee began as a joint meeting
with the Selectmen and the Finance Committee in the Large Hearing
Room, to have the High School Building Committee present its
consultants' final report. (Copies are available at the library and
online at the HSBC's site.)
Doug Sacra and George Metzger of HMFH architects made the main
presentations, along with Dick Amster of Turner Construction, the
Sacra showed that the latest plans place the Waste Water Treatment
Plant on the other side of the Field House, away from the abutting
neighborhood, in response to neighbors' complaints about having it in
their back yards. This also puts it closer to the Happy Hollow
wells, a primary source of drinking water for the town, as well as
the wetlands associated with Dudley Brook and the Sudbury River. It
also puts it at a lower elevation with respect to the required
leaching fields. Sacra did not explain why these factors, which were
responsible for the original placement of the plant, are no longer an
Amster asserted that this is "not a fancy project" and that "we do
not take your money lightly." He went on to say, "Unless there are
significant changes $57.3 million is the right place to be to deliver
Discussing the state's School Building Assistance situation, Metzger
said that "although none of us has a crystal ball," conversations
with state officials lead him to believe that the general
regulations "are not to change significantly." Contrary to prior
expectations, no one attended from the State Treasurer's Office or
the new SBA Board to provide any information on the new program.
In response to a question, HSBC Chair Lea Anderson said that the
$4.232 million to be sought in the January ballot and Special Town
Meeting for design funds "is a pre-negotiation amount," but she
thinks it is an upper limit to what will be required. She did not
explain why HMFH and Turner, obviously aware of the amount being
sought, would settle for any less.
Anderson also said that the sense of her committee is to make the
$57.3 million current project cost estimate a firm budget that they
will manage to. Amster seconded her assertion. "If we go forward we
will manage to the budget," he said. School Committee Chair Lori
Frieling agreed, saying "the budget is set." School Committee member
Bob Gordon described the $57.3 million budget as "realistic," and
cautioned that no one should expect it to "creep down."
Selectmen Chair Betsy Connolly asked about the number of projects
Wayland will be competing with in mid-2007 when the current
moratorium will be lifted and schools will be allowed to apply for
state funds under the new program. There is a $500 million/year cap
on funding. School Superintendent Gary Burton has made some
preliminary inquiries and been told there are about 40 school
construction projects being considered in various towns. He expects
to have more information by the end of the month. (If, for example,
there were 40 projects applying for an average of $20 million in
reimbursement, the requests could total $800 million, far exceeding
the available funds.)
Gordon asked, "Is $500 million more than was ever committed before?"
Metzger replied that it was, but that's why the waiting list was
growing, because the amount actually spent in the past was far less
than the need.
In response to suggestions that by getting started now Wayland would
be "first in line," Metzger explained that funding priorities are
expected to continue to be based on need in terms of facilities, not
on who applies first. He said that under the old regulations, a
proposed project dealing with condemned or unsound buildings was
given first priority; a project dealing with large enrollment
increases was given second priority. (High school student population
growth was a major rationale for initiating Wayland's project, but
actual growth in the last few years is substantially lower than
"There will be prioritization within each year, and being first does
not supplant priority," Metzger said.
(In light of this discussion, it was interesting to note the Globe
West story on 12/2, School Building Plans on Hold, about Shrewsbury's
decision to put a school construction plan on hold until the SBA
reimbursement situation becomes clear. The article quotes School
Committee member Deborah Peeples: "We're really slowing things down
until we know what the state situation looks like." The schools'
business manager, Patrick Collins, is also quoted: "If Shrewsbury
wanted to build a brand new school before 2007, it would probably not
be entitled for reimbursement. So we're proceeding very slowly.")
After the joint meeting ended, the School Committee reconvened in its
own meeting room. Members discussed the issue of handling a
potentially huge attendance at Town Meeting on Jan. 27. The Little
Theater, Commons and the Middle School auditorium were mentioned to
handle overflow crowds, with TV hookups to the Field House. Another
possibility is to have people watch the debate at home on Wayland's
cable TV channel and then go to the Field House to vote over a period
of several hours. As a result of a Town Meeting petitioners' article
last spring this must all be planned in advance.
HSBC members Lea Anderson and Dianne Bladon discussed their
communications plan for the high school proposal. There will be an
eight-page mailer, a fact sheet and ten sets of poster boards for the
lobbies of various public buildings around town. Compliance with the
law is a major concern - all information must be factual. Public
funds cannot be used to influence a ballot question, so the material
can't mention the ballot question or the merits of it. A citizens'
ballot question committee has been formed which can present a
position, but the HSBC will not agree to be associated with this
group. It was mentioned that there are ways to get around it.
Gordon enthused that, for example, a flyer simply saying "Vote on
January 25" could be stacked alongside flyers describing the
project. He commented on the silliness of the government in forcing
the use of two pieces of paper rather than one.
A long discussion followed on the precise wording that should be used
in the material to describe the likelihood of SBA reimbursement. All
School Committee members believe that state aid is more likely than
not; all also accept that funding is not guaranteed. Gordon argued
for the use of very strong language - "we will almost certainly get
reimbursement" - while member Heather Pineault believed that "likely"
adequately conveyed the facts. Frieling suggested the use
of "expected," which drew a consensus from the group.
SCHOOL COMMITTEE CAPITAL WARRANT ARTICLES - Articles for capital
requests for Annual Town Meeting in April need to be submitted by
December 15. The SC discussed the purchase of modular science labs,
although Superintendent Burton is currently investigating a temporary
renovation of existing labs to make do until the presumed new high
school is ready. He believes a few rooms can be renovated without
bringing them all the way up to code, but needs to check. Moving
WayCAM's studio out next year and maybe The Education Cooperative
(TEC) the year after will provide enough space to meet the enrollment
They also discussed requesting money to begin repairs of the Happy
Hollow windows and roof. Some of the windows are in terrible shape
and need replacing immediately; all need it soon. The roof, while
not leaking yet, is near the end of its life.
A long discussion revolved around replacing two School Department
cars, a decrepit 1987 station wagon used for maintenance purposes
around town and Burton's vehicle, purchased in 1996 and with 139K
miles. Burton said he didn't want to argue for his own personal
interest, but then reminded the School Committee that his contract
calls for him to be supplied with a car. The SC agreed that the 1987
utility vehicle was clearly the more urgent need and that Burton's
car could last another year, but decided to ask for both this year
because next year they could be asking for over $53 million for
completion of the proposed high school project.
The School Committee voted to submit seven capital spending articles,
subject to Frieling discussing the proposals with Finance Committee
Chair Bob Lentz.
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Wayland Voters Network
Margo Melnicove, Chair
Michael Short, Treasurer