Friday, October 5, 2007
MSBA: Will Carlisle make the short list?
On Monday, October 1, Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Executive Director Katherine Craven spoke at Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School in Northborough to many superintendents and school committee members from across the state. Of the 422 Statements of Interest (SOI) received, the MSBA now has 127 they consider Priority SOIs. They will notify each of the 127 selected districts in the next ten days.
The MSBA wants to meet with the superintendent, a Finance Committee member and a School Committee member from each town with a Priority SOI. After the meetings, the selection process will continue to the next round, and Craven said she expects to put out "a short list of priority projects in the next several weeks."
MSBA favors towns ready for commitment
Craven said that the MSBA is interested in moving forward with towns that are ready to commit financially, "We expect to match funds to local readiness."
The meetings with the MSBA will include a review of the SOI, and documents such as: other MSBA assessments, school budgets, enrollment trends, maintenance practices, local Master Plans if available, building plans and possible next steps, such as hiring an owner's project manager and doing a feasibility study.
Craven described factors which will be used to determine a project's reimbursement rate. The base rate of 31% will be influenced by the school district's relative wealth, building maintenance, energy efficiency, innovative community use and privately raised funds. Points will also be given for doing renovations instead of new construction.
Weighing the needs
Craven said she wants to know, "How is your educational program limited by your building? What programs can you not offer due to the building but have funding for? What is the local support here? Have overrides passed in recent years?" The MSBA judges need and urgency based on the condition of the building, how overcrowded the building is and the ability (or inability) to deliver the educational program. Priority will be given to those most in need. Craven said, "The worst first from what we've seen."
Craven also touched on enrollment. She is well aware of the state trend of declining numbers of students but she noted that school buildings still need to be built and maintained.
The MSBA is funded by one penny of the state sales tax. "Sales tax performance has been anemic for the last few years," said Craven. "We had expected 4.5% growth, but we are seeing a 1% growth rate." Currently, there is a $500 million annual project cost cap.
On Monday evening, the Carlisle School Building Committee (SBC) came before the Finance Committee (see article above). SBC member Christy Barbee and Superintendent Marie Doyle told FinCom they had a discussion with Katherine Craven after the morning meeting. It seems Craven had thought Carlisle wanted a whole new K-8 school and she was much relieved to hear that Carlisle only wanted to replace Spalding and add an addition. Barbee said, "She [Katherine Craven] thought we should be moved up [on the priority list]. She made no promises, but she will discuss it with her board."
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