Daily Buzz | Good Financial News from School Building Committee
And Community Meeting scheduled for December 5
Good Morning, Burlington!
Join us over in the Hive this November for an opportunity to take part in exclusive meetups and other opportunities. Your annual Hive membership qualifies you to enter for a gift card to a local business and will help support our local food pantry. Upgrade now.
Good Financial News from School Building Committee
The Sustainability Working Group of the Fox Hill School Building Committee will be meeting today to discuss some preliminary sustainability studies for the new building to be constructed on the Fox Hill site. They gave a preview of this presentation at the School Building Committee meeting on Monday evening, and the news is good: The lifetime cost of geothermal heat pump systems, including state rebates, is actually lower than the less environmentally sustainable options. So, a win-win.
The SBC also discussed the height and location of the new building. They settled on a two-story construction, which was roughly equivalent in cost and seemed to be a better layout for promoting a community feel and creating ease of access for services and specials like PE, art, and music.
Construction cost estimates were also presented, and some good news came out of that discussion as well: The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) has increased their reimbursement for both construction (from $393 to $550 per square foot) and site work (from $39 to $55 per square foot) AND they now allow towns to claim rebates (such as the one described above) rather than reducing the reimbursement to account for them. So, based on current estimates, the district share for the new Fox Hill building looks like it will be closer to $65 million than the original projection of around $80 million—more good news for Burlington, as the police station and high school capital projects begin to move into the next phase of discussion. It’s worth stating that these are still not final numbers, and they’re subject to change, but they are more fine-tuned than the original numbers which were based on cost per square foot.
There was also a conversation about where the school building will be located on the property. Bill Boivin from the Conservation Commission expressed a preference for building the school closer to the vernal pool located in the nearby woods, using the building as a kind of buffer between the protected wetland area and human activity. The location hasn’t been set in stone, but it’s clear the School Committee and Conservation Commission want the same things but might have different views on how to accomplish it.
The Fox Hill Building Committee will hold a Community Informational Meeting on December 5 at 7 PM. This meeting will be hybrid at BHS and online.
And, here’s your recap from last night’s School Committee meeting:
Safe Routes to School sponsored a very successful Walk/Bike/Roll to School day at Fox Hill and Memorial. There will be a Winter Walk in February. Queueing of cars on Fox Hill Road and Westwood has been eliminated because of some dismissal scheduling changes. And, the Transportation Subcommittee will be meeting soon to discuss seeking a new bus contract.
High school Social Studies teachers will be attending a national conference in Nashville.
After beginning in the elementary schools and growing through the middle school, the strings program will be expanding into the high school, and a stipend was approved.
Assistant Superintendent, Lisa Chen, gave what has become a regular, in-depth and very informative update. Some highlights:
The first meeting of the math curriculum review happened.
The human sexuality curriculum is under development.
All K-5 teachers will be trained in Understanding Dyslexia.
There will be a Computer Science Family Night in February.
The Francis Wyman playground is open.
Device and other technology replacement plans are being created.
The multilingual/English Learner population at the high school had doubled from last year and is expected to increase again in the winter. Many of these students have no or limited formal education. An English Learner Instructional Assistant position was approved to support these students in obtaining their high school diplomas.
The 325-student enrollment projection for the new Fox Hill building was approved, with Mr. Brooks and Ms. Massardo noting that the School Committee should begin planning for redistricting now to avoid a bunch of shuffling later.
Burlington, along with a number of districts around the country, is a part of a class action lawsuit by the Office of Civil Rights for website accessibility, and while most of the website’s content meets accessibility standards, many of the documents that need to be shared, such as the district calendar and the budget spreadsheets, are difficult to make into a readable format. This is something that the district is working to figure out.
Today in Burlington
Municipal Meetings and Community Events
9:00 AM - Fox Hill School Building - Sustainability Working Group will provide an overview of the life cycle cost analysis. (Virtual)
1:00 PM - Fox Hill School Building - Executive Working Group will discuss upcoming meetings. (Virtual)
4:00 PM - Board of Accessors - There will be an executive session, but not before citizens time. (Town Hall Main Hearing Room)
5:30 PM - Select Board - Strategic Planning Session to discuss DPW updates, capital projects, government review, and more. (Grand View Farm)
6:00 PM - Pre-Application Review Committee (Planning Board, Land Use Committee, Zoning Bylaw Review Committee) will begin discussing a zoning change to the Grandview Farm Planned Development District to the new police station can be constructed there. (Town Hall Annex and Virtual)
6:30 PM - Shawsheen Budget Subcommittee - Operating and capital budgets for both FY24 and FY25 will be addressed. (Shawsheen Tech)
6:30 PM - Shawsheen Facilities/Capital Planning Subcommittee will discuss the ins and outs of their capital budget. (Shawsheen Tech)
7:00 - 8:30 PM - Burlington RC Flyers Club - if RC Flying has ever interested you, come check out this group of enthusiasts to learn more. (Library)
7:00 PM - Historical Commission - The 225th birthday of our town is coming up next year! Planning for a celebration and booklet is on the agenda for tonight. (Grandview Farm)
7:00 - 8:00 PM - Fables & Fantasy Book Club: Daughter of the Moon Goddess - Come chat with other readers about this story about a young woman on a mission to free her mother. (Library; Register)
And with that, I’m out. Have a great one, Burlington!