Originally posted 8 Dec 2011
The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) recently notified Lunenburg that the community will enter Module 1: Eligibility to begin a partnership with the MSBA to identify a solution for the Lunenburg High School Facility. Lunenburg submitted a Statement of Interest for Lunenburg High School to the MSBA as soon as it began operating in July 2007. The school was determined to be in need, and was placed in the category of “regional consideration.” A comprehensive regionalization study was undertaken to determine the advisability and feasibility of forming a three-town region with Ayer and Shirley. In September 2009 the Lunenburg Regional Planning Committee (RPC) determined that a Lunenburg-Ayer-Shirley region would benefit students, but the RPC could not recommend it to the Board of Selectmen unless funding for transition costs was provided by the state.
In November 2009 the MSBA formally invited Lunenburg to collaborate, but required “intensive pre-feasibility scoping” including “a full vetting of all regionalization issues.” The Lunenburg RPC and a sub-committee of the North Middlesex Regional School District (NMRSD) School Committee formed a joint board that studied Lunenburg joining North Middlesex over 15 months. In August 2011 the NMRSD Sub-Committee for Regional Expansion unanimously recommended that the NMRSD School Committee should not enter into formal negotiations with Lunenburg for regional expansion. The following day the Lunenburg RPC voted unanimously to withdraw from discussion with the NMRSD School Committee about joining the district in a regional expansion.
During both regionalization studies the various boards and committees worked well and in good faith. They gave generously of their time and talents and we are grateful for their work. Our thanks to the following individuals from Lunenburg who served on the Regional Planning Committee: Milree Keeling, Greg Berthiaume, Jane Hall, Anthony Caiozzo, and Brendan Grady.
The Lunenburg School Committee worked during the regionalization studies to determine the impact of remaining an independent district on the configuration of Lunenburg’s schools. There have been preliminary discussions with the MSBA about reconfiguring the grades within each school as a way to resolve the facility needs at the High School, the Thomas C. Passios Elementary School, and Turkey Hill Middle School. In September 2011 the Lunenburg School Committee appointed a special Advisory Committee to identify the organizational and facility challenges of reconfiguring grades, to articulate any educational opportunities for the School Committee, and to assist with communication to the public. The Advisory Committee will report to the School Committee in public session on December 7, 2011.
According to the MSBA website, Lunenburg is now in the project phase and must obtain local clearance to proceed. The District has a 270-day period to complete certain preliminary requirements that include: 1) executing an Initial Compliance Certification that the District understands the rules of the grant program; 2) forming an appropriate School Building Committee; 3) submitting a summary of the District’s funding capacities; 4) submitting a summary of the District’s maintenance practices; 5) certification of anticipated enrollment for the proposed project agreed upon with the MSBA; 6) confirmation of community authorization and funding to proceed; and 7) execution of the MSBA’s standard Feasibility Study Agreement. The Feasibility Study Agreement includes all pre-construction planning and establishes a process for the District to be reimbursed for eligible expenses.
We are very excited to have this opportunity to address the urgent needs of Lunenburg High School. We anticipate placing an article for expenditure related to Feasibility Study and Preliminary Designs on the warrant for Annual Town Meeting in May 2012, followed by an election ballot question later that same month. The cost for the Feasibility Study includes the cost of the OPM, the designers, as well as the preliminary design through final program design. We are very early in the process and will reach out to our community to inform and engage them in building a future for our children.