The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 29, 2010

Town has 120 days to vote on state building aid offer

It’s official and the clock has started – the state has formally offered to reimburse $6,988,637, or 40% of approved costs, for the proposed $20 million Carlisle School building project. Carlisle has 120 days in which to accept or reject the offer issued by the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) at their meeting on Wednesday, January 27. As part of the grant requirements, Town Meeting must approve the full construction costs for the project within 120 days.

The proposed building project includes the replacement of the Spalding Building with a new building, as well as renovations to other school buildings. The new building is to include 13 classrooms to serve children in preK – grade 2, a conference room, administrative offices and spaces for special education, literacy and other student support services.

The MSBA explained why they did not consider all project costs eligible for reimbursement in a January 27 memo sent to the Mosquito: “The MSBA agrees with the [Carlisle School] District that the Spalding Building needs to be replaced, as stated in its prioritized [Statement of Interest] SOI. Although the square footage of the existing facility exceeds MSBA guidelines, the district has proposed a solution that replaces the 16,500-square-foot Spalding Building with a 29,000 square foot building, further expanding the facility beyond that allowed in the MSBA guidelines.”

They declined to fund costs associated with the superintendent office in the new building, the proposed choral room and refurbishing of the auditorium seating. MSBA also stated that the grant amount “excludes any site work costs over 8% of the building construction costs, [Carlisle’s owner project manager] OPM costs in excess of 3.5% of construction cost and [furniture, fixture and equipment] FF&E costs over the allowance of $2,400 per student.”

Carlisle School Building Committee (SBC) Chair Lee Storrs explained why the total grant had slipped roughly $20,000 from the $7,008,404 quoted at the January 14 SBC meeting. He said that Carlisle had asked the state to review their calculations with regard to site work and as a result they had also reviewed and revised the amount of OPM, architect and other “soft” costs deemed reimbursable. Regarding the soft costs, Storrs said, “A lot of those costs are based on time.” He noted that designing and constructing a new building on an existing site takes longer than building a stand-alone facility. “It’s a step-by-step process,” he said. Underground gas and power lines must be relocated before excavation can begin for the construction of the new building. Once the new building is completed and available for student use, then the old building can be demolished.

Next steps

In the near future, Storrs thought that the Selectmen, Carlisle School Committee and SBC may have to vote preliminary acceptance of the aid offer. In a joint meeting on January 14 the three groups had voted to accept the slightly higher aid amount then in hand.

The SBC is considering whether to wait for Annual Town Meeting and Election in May, or whether to request votes on the project earlier at a Special Town Meeting and Election (see related article below.) According to Finance Director Larry Barton, because the project will require bonding, the funding must be approved by a two-thirds majority at a Town Meeting. In addition, a debt exclusion ballot question must pass by a majority at a Town Election. ∆

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