MSBA is doing their job!

Todd Feathers‏ Tweets on August 23rd from MSBA Meeting:

Board member Terry Kwan urges City officials on both side of LHS debate should sit down and just talk it out. Hasn’t gone well to date.

Board members saying they should table LHS Cawley approval until city reaches agreement on preferred design.

MSBA Guidelines and Policy :The MSBA works in partnership with cities, towns and regional school districts across the Commonwealth to find the most educationally appropriate and fiscally responsible solutions to school building deficiencies. As part of that collaboration, the MSBA provides districts with valuable resources, including model procurement documents for districts to use when procuring a designer or owner’s project manager (“OPM”), standard contracts for districts to use when contracting with a designer or OPM, and model vote language to use for local votes.

Cities , regional school districts, and independent agricultural and technical schools are responsible for the administration and success of a project, and the provision of technical advice, guidance, approvals, or funds, if any, by the Authority shall not in any way be construed, interpreted or deemed to imply that the Authority shall have any responsibility for the administration or success of the project. Although cities, towns, regional school districts, and independent agricultural and technical schools are encouraged to seek the advice and opinion of the Authority on issues that may arise regarding the project, advice provided by the Authority shall not transfer the responsibility for final decisions from cities,towns, regional school districts, and independent agricultural and technical schools to the Authority, nor render the Authority responsible for any such advice.

The MSBA sent it back on August 23rd because this City is divided and the MSBA is very clear that it is the responsibility of the CITY to get everyone on the same page. It is NOT their issue!

The Manager and City leaders at least publicly have done nothing to try to bring a compromise forward and if anything both sides have dug in deeper.

The MSBA doesn’t want to advance the process knowing that the next City Council or School Committee could I REPEAT COULD (used to indicate possibility) vote to NOT fund the project or not approve the Design after money has been spent.

The MSBA rules and guidelines are clear, very clear, it is a city issue. They told us on August 23rd go figure it out and the city leaders and media have done nothing at least publicly to try in anyway to promote a compromise but have only added fuel to the divide.

I get whacked and criticized for mentioning a compromise that neither side wants to hear about but at least I’m trying.

Maybe after Nov. 7th the City leaders will look to compromise or risk losing the project.

It can and has happened.

Amherst MA.The town cannot get state support for a different school building project from the one defeated last month by Town Meeting.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority, which is authorized to help pay for public school building projects, has rejected school and town officials’ request to bring to voters a project with twin K-6 schools to replace both Wildwood and Fort River elementary schools.

However, the state authority said its $34 million funding commitment is good until the end of March, if Town Meeting can be persuaded to support the original project before then.

Mary Pichetti, director of capital planning for the MSBA, wrote in a Dec. 2 letter to interim Superintendent Michael Morris that the project to reconfigure the elementary schools is the only one that Town Meeting, which rejected the plan Nov. 14, can act on.

Pichetti informed officials that they would have to submit a new statement of interest and await a second invitation from the MSBA board. For several years, such statements of interest were submitted until Wildwood was selected.

The process would then start anew, including hiring a new project manager and designer, and completing a new feasibility study and schematic design.

This is the route supported by Save Amherst’s Small Schools, which opposed the project, in a letter it sent to Katie Loeffler, MSBA’s capital project manager, last week.

“We look forward to the district and the town moving forward apace with the submission of a new statement of interest as soon as possible and an open and inclusive process,” the group wrote.

Lowell doesn’t have to seek an override or debt exception but the MSBA rules allows them to not proceed when there is a strong chance that the project COULD (DONT SAY I SAID THIS WILL HAPPEN I’M saying it COULD) get rejected by the School Committee or not funded. They don’t want to waste their or Lowell taxpayer’s money.

The MSBA isn’t allowing the Schematic Design Project to begin because there is still a divide in the city and until it is somehow resolved they can either keep pushing the dates out or give Lowell a deadline and force a compromise or risk beginning the process over.

In the meantime Lowell still has to invest millions to keep the current High School safe and usable.

The MSBA is doing its is time our City Leaders did theirs!

5 thoughts on “MSBA is doing their job!

  1. You mention a compromise. I am trying to envision one besides Option Zero. All I can come up with is two high schools. This would make the Cawley site better able to support a high school campus and greatly ease traffic concerns. It would ease construction work-arounds for a rehab of the current (Downtown) site. It would fix the eminent domain issue (no need for it).

    Two high schools means less of a sense of lost in a sea of students, and thus a chance for better academic (and other) performance.

    And, a little competition between schools would be good for the students, especially if we mixed and matched them to ensure neighborhood (socio-economic and ethnic) diversity.

    Regards — Cliff

  2. Well, the Voters have spoken, so there appears to be no need for a compromise, unless the rift is so deep we need something to bring the factions back together.

    What do you think?

    Regards  —  Cliff

    • I believe the next step is for the City Manager or a vote of the Council to ask the Manager, to contact the MSBA to find out the proper procedure to re-submit the PSR (Preferred Schematic Report). Since it is a 3,000 page document, it will take time to revise and the next Council I believe would have the vote on which option unless this Council chooses to act on that.

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