Update from the High School Building Committee
Posted by Jeffrey Roy on September 23, 2011
Here is the latest news from the FHS Building Committee:
In March of 2011, Architect Kaestle Boos brought four options for a new/renovated high school to the School Building Committee. Option One was a limited renovation and addition of 8,400 sf of space for a total of 317,000 sf. The projected cost was $73,100,000 with a cost to the town of $30,800,000. Option Two was a gut renovation and addition of 14,800 sf of space for a total of 325,600 sf. The projected cost was $96,400,000 and a cost to the town of $40,800,000. Option Three was a new construction with 305,000 sf and with renovations to field house. Total project cost was $97,900,000 and a town cost of $45,600,000. Option Four was to choose a model school from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Model School Program that would be a 305,000 sf new building. The project cost would be $98,000,000 with a cost to the town of $42,000,000. The Building Committee chose Option Four and petitioned the MSBA to be allowed to participate in the Model School Building Program.
On September 7 and 8 at the Municipal Building, the High School Building Committee held public interviews with four architectural firms representing each of the program model schools. The four firms were invited to present the model schools proposed for Franklin’s needs. The architects were asked to identify how the model schools could best be adapted to fit Franklin’s needs and the current High School site. The four model high schools chosen were the Ashland High School building design, the Hudson High School building design, the Shrewsbury High School building design, and the Whitman-Hanson High School Building design. The Committee unanimously voted to select Ai3 Architects, LLC and the Whitman-Hanson High School building design model school (see photograph to the right).
The Town Council will vote to appropriate $1,800,000 on September 28 to commence the design. The target is to have the schematic design approved by the MSBA in January 2012. Once approved, we will request the Town Council vote to place a Debt Exclusion question on the Ballot of a Special Election next Spring. With an estimated project cost of $98,000,000 and an expected reimbursement rate of slightly less than 58% from the MSBA the town’s cost would be approximately $42,000,000.
What is a debt exclusion?
A community can assess taxes in excess of its levy limit (Proposition 2 ½ Override) for the payment of certain capital projects, or in this case, the capital project would be a school. A two-thirds vote of the Town Council is required to place a ballot question before the voters. A majority vote of approval by the voters is required to pass. Debt exclusions do not become part of the tax base and only last until the debt is paid. So when the school is paid for the tax base goes back down. The town has passed three debt exclusions: one for the Remington Jefferson School, one for the Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller School, and one for the Horace Mann and Oak Street School and FX O’Reagan Early Childhood Development Center Complex. A debt exclusion usually lasts for twenty years.