If the Town Meeting vote is not successful, what are the options for how to proceed?

The two basic options are: 1) to adjust the scope of the project and complete it within the original budget; or 2) to seek funding at a subsequent Town Meeting so that a project of similar size and scope as the currently proposed school could be completed. Both options have significant negative consequences. 

  • Under the first option, a significant re-design of the project would be required and at least a temporary pause to construction would be necessary while that redesign was taking place. Thus, the cost factors noted above related to a delayed construction approach all would be in play during the period of redesign and until construction could be resumed. In addition, the following factors should be considered: 
    • Most, if not all, of the additional value engineering items previously noted would have to be removed from the project. This would result in a cost savings of less than $25 per year for the average price home, would not fully address the budget shortfall, and would have the following impacts:
      • Turf field: this was a major factor for many residents and a significant reason why many supported the project; elimination of that would require the installation of a grass field which would have its own, although lower, installation costs, and would result in greater maintenance costs than would a turf field.
      • Site improvements and landscaping: These could not be fully eliminated and thus those costs would not be reduced to zero; reductions in this area would make the school a less attractive and welcoming place. 
      • Operable gym partitions: removal would result in a less favorable learning environment.
      • Gym and athletic equipment:  If eliminated from this project, they would have to be purchased through another funding source. 
      • Greenhouse: elimination would detract from our science curriculum and our ability to build a sustainable culture among our students and staff.
      • Window treatments: removal would pose security issues and would detract from the building’s energy efficiency and from the overall educational environment.
    • Significant additional reductions to the size and scope of the project would be necessary, with an inevitable impact on the education of West El and Shawsheen students, including students in the Bridge autism program. For example, to stay within the original budget, it might be necessary to not fully build the preschool wing and to have our pre-K students remain at the existing school, with obvious major educational impacts on those students. It might also be necessary to eliminate the funding for new furniture, fixtures and equipment, and for technology, and instead move and reuse those items in the new school, again with major educational impacts.
    • Additional architectural fees would be incurred to conduct the redesign.
    • Depending on the nature of the proposed reductions, at least some of the MSBA grant of up to $38 million could be threatened. For example, any proposal to lower the capacity of the new West El or to reduce the size of classrooms would be at odds with our MSBA funding agreement. Not fully building the preschool wing likely would lead to at least a partial reduction of the MSBA grant.
  • Under the second option, a renewed request at the 2023 spring Annual Town Meeting would require a halt to construction of at least six months. Thus, the cost factors noted above related to a delayed construction approach all would be in play during that period, with a likely cost increase of more than $4 million due to the delay.

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1. Did the original budget approved at Town Meeting in June of 2021 anticipate cost increases between that time and when all bids would be received?
2. Why did the Town choose the Construction Manager at Risk process rather than the Design/Bid/Build process?
3. Why did the Building Committee choose to proceed with four early bids (site enabling, structural steel, concrete, and site work) rather than bidding the whole project at the same time?
4. Why are increases to contingencies recommended?
5. Is the deficit the result of mismanagement by the Town or its contractors?
6. Can the deficit be funded within the existing operating budget rather than adding to the budget and thus increasing property taxes?
7. Will construction continue between now and Special Town Meeting?
8. Would a delay in construction lead to lower costs for the Town?
9. What would the educational impacts be of a delay in construction?
10. If the Town Meeting vote is not successful, what are the options for how to proceed?
11. How likely is it that an additional funding request beyond the current request will be required?
12. Will the Town need to borrow all the money that Special Town Meeting approves and, if not, how will that impact the increase in property taxes?
13. What happens if all the money borrowed isn’t needed to complete the project?
14. Can the second elevator in the West El wing or other items removed during earlier Value Engineering be restored?
15. Can funds for the installation of solar panels at the new school be sought as part of the STM funding request?