The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 31, 2009

No summer break for SBC

July may be a quiet time at the Carlisle School, but the School Building Committee (SBC) continues efforts to reach agreement with state officials on renovation plans in order to qualify for 40% state reimbursement of project costs. At their July 16 meeting the SBC discussed questions concerning the project size and documentation which were raised at a July 13 meeting with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).

Unresolved space issues

SBC Chair Lee Storrs explained that three issues were discussed relating to spaces that exceed MSBA’s standard allowances: the size of the multi-purpose room, the amount of administrative space, and the total square footage per student. Rooms not approved by the MSBA can be built but will not be included in the reimbursement plan.

The total square footage per pupil is higher than allowed by MSBA for a school with 700 students. “We are well over the [amount of] common space area” per pupil, said Storrs.

HMFH Architect Laura Warnick said the MSBA understands the reason the school is over the allowable limit is that the construction is being done at a school with pre-existing buildings, as opposed to constructing a new school.

The size of the administrative offices in the new building also puts the school over the allowable amount for that type of space. “It’s a small amount over the limit,” said Warnick. SBC member Bill Fink noted the new administrative space includes conference rooms. The MSBA questioned why the school plans to have two separate administrative facilities, one for the elementary school and one for the middle school, instead of combining the facilities.

The most costly issue is the proposed multi-purpose room. The room, about the size of the school library, will provide handicapped-accessible band and choral space. It will also have a small performance space. The school hopes to have it available for community use before 11 a.m. as well as after school. With state reimbursement of 40%, the room will cost approximately $600,000; without reimbursement it will cost a million dollars.

“The multi-purpose room is a red flag,” said Storrs. The issue, according to Storrs, stems from the existence of the Corey Auditorium. In many towns the auditorium is located at the local high school. Carlisle does not have a high school, and the auditorium serves both the school and the community for events such as Town Meetings. The MSBA uses the auditorium’s square footage in its space calculations and views the Corey Auditorium and associated classrooms as adequate music and band space. However, the SBC has noted that elementary and middle school classes of over 20 students are being held in spaces designed for groups half that size. Storrs said the MSBA is aware of the Corey Auditorium’s function as a town space. “They haven’t said the multi-purpose room is ineligible” for reimbursement, said Warnick, “but it’s my sense that it will be tough to get it.”

Feasibility Study Agreement

The state previously told the SBC that the 2005 Carlisle School Master Plan will fulfill requirements for a project feasibility study. However, the MSBA has recently clarified that a Feasibility Study Agreement (FSA) must still be signed by both the town and state, before the town signs contracts with HMFH Architects and Daedalus, the project management company. At the SBC’s July 23 meeting Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie said the FSA has been drafted, signed by the Selectmen and has been sent to the MSBA.

Architects to draw preliminary floor plan by August 20

Warnick said the architects are working on dividing the educational space needs between the new building and existing buildings. Fink asked if the location of the new building needed to be determined before they laid out the rooms. Warnick replied, “We first figure out what can fit in the existing buildings,” and that would determine the size of the new building. She added that the MSBA is looking for efficiency in how the existing spaces are used.

Chair Lee Storrs asked how long it would take to have a layout. “At the [August 6] meeting we’ll have the preliminary ideas and education specs,” said Warnick, which can be reviewed by the committee. She added they should be able to present a preliminary floor plan by the August 20 meeting.

Next steps

Storrs later outlined the SBC’s role in the coming months: “Once the MSBA returns the signed FSA we will execute a contract with HMFH for schematic design services and an amendment with Daedalus Projects for OPM services during schematic design. We will also enter into a contract for site survey services, existing facilities hazardous materials assessment and a geotechnical investigation.”

He continued, “The next step will be for the architect to perform an existing facilities and educational needs assessment. This assessment will be forwarded to the MSBA and will be used as the basis of the project.” Storrs expects that the assessment will help answer the MSBA’s questions regarding the proposed multi-purpose room, administrative spaces and per-pupil space allotments.

Storrs expects the project will be ready for a final Town Meeting vote this coming winter or spring. ∆

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