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Daily Buzz | Elementary School Building Committee Outlines Progress and Preliminary Cost Estimates at Town Forum
Also, virtual author event through the library tonight
Good Morning, Burlington!
Last night, the School Building Committee had its second of many community forums to discuss with the public the project to replace the Fox Hill Elementary School. Typically, I would outline all the the things that were discussed at this meeting, but the truth is that, while a tiny bit more context was given and new speakers came out for the Q&A section of the meeting (which lasted at least an hour), much of the information presented and brought up during the Q&A has been discussed before. So, instead, I’ll leave you with the broad strokes of the project and work to create the first in-depth explainer like I mentioned in the Sustainability Survey.
Speaking of that survey, 43 of you kind souls have already responded and given me some great ideas. If you want to fill out the survey and haven’t already, please take 5 minutes of your time to reply and let me know what you’re thinking about the level of service the Buzz provides. I’ll compile this information and report out on trends either this weekend or early next week.
School Building Project
BPS submitted a letter of intent to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to subsidize the building of a new Fox Hill. This is after a decade of applying for funds to refurbish or rebuild our high school and being denied.
The MSBA accepted Burlington into the process in 2020, under the condition that we combine Fox Hill and Pine Glen. The district requested and was granted the opportunity to look at both a single small Fox Hill school and a combined Fox Hill/Pine Glen.
In May of 2021, the School Committee entered into an agreement with the MSBA to examine both the possibility of having a 325-student school on the Fox Hill site or a 640-student combined Fox-Hill/Pine Glen (with separate entrances, separate administrations, etc.) on the Fox Hill site.
In June of 2021, the School Building Committee was formed.
In February of 2022, Town Meeting voted to appropriate $1.5M for a feasibility study to examine all the different options MSBA is requiring us to consider, including renovations & base code upgrade, addition/renovations, and rebuilds.
An Owner’s Project Manager team (Dore & Whittier) and a design team (DiNisco Design) was selected to guide us through this process.
We are currently in the feasibility study process and creating what’s called a PDP, or Preliminary Design Plan. That included outlining the educational program for each school and determining how much space is needed to meet this educational program. That documentation has been completed and will be sent to the MSBA this week. No decisions have been made about which option will be chosen. They’re just required to send the ed plan and space summary for all options to the state.
We have also received some preliminary “order of magnitude” cost estimates (in other words, they’re subject to change but designed to give us a ballpark idea). from the project management team, and our Ways & Means Committee has done some work to correlate those with an approximate increase in annual property taxes for the median taxpayer. Last night’s presentation added that a new high school (which is another project under feasibility study) would add an additional estimated $960-$1300 per year to the tax bill, on top of whatever the elementary school project ads—which is projected to be between $260 and $560. There is also a feasibility study in process for a new police station, which would add yet more to the tax burden.
Much of the conversation during public participation has centered around the rejection of a 640-student school on the Fox Hill campus in favor of a single small school on each campus like we currently have. Concerns have been raised about traffic, safety, and some community members’ feeling that having a larger school on this campus would be damaging to both educational outcomes (though the research on this is not at all conclusive and doesn’t address our context) and the “small-town feel” of Burlington, or at least of the northern slice of it where Fox Hill and Pine Glen are located.
After the PDP is submitted, the team will begin looking in-depth at each possible solution and collaborate to determine which is best for the town of Burlington.
If you’ve got any more questions about this, look out for the in-depth explainer in the next week or so, or feel free to check out the Building Project website or last night’s very thorough and informative presentation.
Today in Burlington
Meetings and Events
6:30 PM - Parks & Recreation Kids’ Show on the Common - Joe Howard
6:45 PM - Ways & Means Subcommittee Town Hall 1 will meet to discuss end-of-year budget transfers. (Town Hall)
7:00 PM - An Evening with Bestselling Author Lisa See (Library event; Register)
7:00 PM - Teen Escape Room at the library - Haunted Schoolhouse (Register)
That’s all I’ve got for you today. I’ll see you tomorrow!