North Reading SSBC Plans Special Election and Town Meeting for School Building Project
Determined to save educational programs, the committee anticipates a budget shortfall as the construction documents develop.
Late in 2012, the Secondary Schools Building Committee (SSBC) learned that some line items exceeded original budget estimates for the school building project. With the construction documents for the project currently 60 percent complete, the SSBC foresees more cost overruns once the documents are 90 percent complete. Therefore, they plan to ask the town for additional funds at a Special Election and Special Town Meeting.
The $355,000 cushion created by eliminating certain building features in December has been reduced to a cushion of $155,692 due to adding $200,000 in security equipment, which had previously been deferred from the budget. Selectmen Chairman Sean Delaney concurred with Superintendent Kathleen Willis and School Committee member Gerald Venezia that no educational programs would be compromised by cutbacks. They stated that all alternatives to non-essential elements in the original plan are being considered for elimination. For example, rather than incorporating an administrative suite of offices on the building site other office space available in town would be substituted.
The construction documents are scheduled to be 90 percent complete in February and a new budget estimate should be available Feb. 25. The final Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) is expected by March 11, according to Willis. Once the SSBC has that figure, they will know how much more than the original budget of 107.7 million they will have to ask for at Special Town Meeting.
The Board of Selectmen and School Committee will meet on Jan. 28 to confirm the dates for a Special Town Meeting and Special Election. Right now, the tentative dates are March 18 for Special Town Meeting and March 23 for Special Town Election.
According to School Committee Chairman Mel Webster, the philosophy is that residents should have the opportunity to vote again. At Special Town Meeting, residents will be presented with all of the information regarding the budget. They will also be informed of what the school will be like if they vote for the override and what it will be like if they do not vote for the override and the SSBC has to work with the existing budget.
Informational meetings for the public are tentatively planned for Jan. 29, Feb. 28 and March 14. The focus of these meetings is to explain the revised costs and the impact those costs will have on residents.
"The March 14 meeting will focus on financial information associated with the final GMP. The presentation will provide details regarding the additional funds needed to complete the project as originally planned and what the tax impact would be on the average household," Willis said.