What happens with MSBA on Aug. 23rd? Budget Shortfall? Need for Fiscal Questioning!

Please remember

that an authorization to proceed into Schematic Design is not an approval of a project and is limited to development of a robust schematic design that is based on the preferred solution, by the District, its OPM (for projects with estimated construction costs in excess of $1.5 million) and its Designer.

In order for the MSBA to enter into a Project Funding Agreement with the District,the District must secure local authorization and funding within 120 days of the Board’s vote.

In addition,the Commissioner of Education must certify that adequate provisions have been made in the Proposed Project for children with disabilities.In order to establish that adequate provisions are included in the Proposed Project, the District, through its OPM, must provide to the MSBA a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education(“DESE”)Submittal for the Proposed Project as described below.

I’ve stated that I am hopeful the MSBA will send back the project in August because there are still several unanswered questions including approval by 2 other communities, the Lowell zoning board, no busing plan and an existing School Budget with a $869,522 deficit.

It was also learned this week that Building Committee members again are criticizing the architect for changing plans resulting in adding cost to the location at Cawley. Chief among the complaints, a design that was presented to the MSBA which had 1 elevator for 3,500-students in a 5-story school. Another elevator has to be added which will increase that cost. The busing and traffic fiasco in that area was highlighted by interim City Engineer Nick Bosonetto, who stated that without widening the intersection at Rogers St., the city appears to have two choices A)cope with gridlock two times a day or B) shift some of the congestion elsewhere. “It’s not going to work efficiently,” he said. “It’s going to be choked at certain times of the day.”

To those people who say ” Let’s take all that time and energy and start writing every state and government agencies asking to contribute funds” in theory that’s fine but you do all realize that there 404 School Districts in the state each who have their own challenges in transportation and Chapt. 70 funding and many who think Lowell already gets more money than most communities so their elected officials would not be supporting funding the largest High School Project in the State plus giving them more money besides what we are receiving for the Court House, Thorndike Street revitalization, South Common Project , Hamilton Canal Project and the recent buildings completed by UMass Lowell. The State cannot just focus on Lowell’s needs no matter how great the relationship we have with the Governor and Legislature.

IF the MSBA approves the plan on August 23rd as is, BEFORE any MSBA final funding is approved the City of Lowell has 120 days (Feb 14th 2018) to work on a schematic design that will be what the final cost of the project is based on while they work to secure local authorization and funding, meaning the Zoning changed in Belvidere, get the Tewksbury Conservation and possibly zoning boards approval and the Chelmsford Conservation Commission approval.

During those 120 days, day 52 is the November Election.

IF a majority of the city voted in favor of the referendum, in theory the City could go back to the MSBA on day 53 and explain the situation to see if they would allow the site to switch to the downtown. The same thing they would have to do should Tewksbury or Chelmsford or our own zoning board vote against or postpone a vote on the city’s request

So IF the MSBA does not kick it back in August, there is still time to ask them based on the results of the non – binding question to ask for reconsideration.

One Quarter of the way there

Congratulations to the Save Lowell High School group for collecting over 2000 certified signatures.

What Budget Shortfall?
Apparently a budget approved with $600,000 that wasn’t funded by the state is no big deal since we haven’t heard any worry from the School Committee, City Administration or School Committee challengers.

Busing Contract / Fiscal Oversight

Tomorrow the bids (?) for a new busing contract will be opened. I’d be surprised if there was more than 1 bidder and if the contract came in any lower. Why an error by the business office under the Supervision of the Asst. Supt. of Finance which passed the Superintendent and City Purchasing Agents approval before being posted then approved by the 7 members of the current school committee is being somehow blamed on a 14 year longtime employee who DOES NOT WRITE RFQ’s is beyond logic explanation. An error was made by an employee in the Business Office not the Transportation Director.

Add that error with the RFQ for an “In-District “Day School that didn’t require the building to be in the City (which is the District), presenting a budget based on an increase in funds that wasn’t guaranteed and the fiasco that was the closing of the last and what is beginning to look like this fiscal year and my concern over not enough fiscal oversight and questioning should be clear!

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