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Late-January vote puts estimated cost of rebuilt AHS at $291.7M

Latest HMFH design of AHS front supported Jan. 22.Latest HMFH design of AHS front supported Jan. 22.

UPDATED, Feb. 5: The total estimated cost of rebuilding Arlington High School has declined again, this time to $291.7 million.

The building committee arrived at the new number, which had not yet been officially voted on, following an exercise Thursday, Jan. 31, in which 18 members participated in a series of straw votes to determine which aspects to keep and which to cut.

An official vote occurred Tuesday, Feb. 5, with a final vote on the cost before sending all documents to the state School Building Authority set for Feb. 12.

Votes for official numbers, to move payroll due

A second vote remains Feb. 5 -- whether to agree to move the school's payroll office, now in the high school, to Town Hall. The committee was split about what to do Thursday. Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine and Superintendent Kathy Bodie must must tell the committee what they have worked out Tuesday.

The estimated cost to rebuild Arlington High School was reduced to $299 million on Jan. 29 after the estimate had stood at $308 million since last summer. The vote was 11-4-1, and committee discussion that night indicated a possibility of going down to $290 million. See a list items on which the committee voted Jan. 29 in a sidebar. 

During a three-hour meeting, here is how the building committee reduced the overall estimated project cost to about $7 million, from $299 million.


Link to all items the committee discussed in late January >>


Cuts suggested via straw votes

Eighteen participants did so by holding straw (unofficial) votes on a series of features. A yes votes means the committee agreed to remove the item from the project. They were:

-- Simplify amphitheater design ($274,884): Yes

-- Simplify Minuteman bike ramp ($1 million): Yes

-- Various site reductions ($70,000): Yes

-- Three items related to photovoltaic infrastructure (costing $1,206,698, $1,113,748 and $55,977): The vote was yes, but they were not removed from the project; instead, the costs will be covered under with Ameresco, a renewable-energy company)

-- Electrical-vehicle infrastructure 227 parking spaces ($49,950): Yes

-- Create image of Collomb House on glass curtain wall in lieu of reusing existing ($1,965,000): Yes

-- Salvage, repair, store and reinstall Old Hall proscenium ($34,255): Yes

-- Salvage clock and turn over to town ($20,000): Yes

-- Change sloped glazing to unit skylights ($154,000): No

-- Reduce 30 percent of copper siding to brick veneer ($556,611): Yes

-- Change ceilings of science and Family and Consumer Sciences Education classrooms ($544,321): Yes

-- Reduce acoustical wall treatment by 10 percent ($72,891): Yes

-- Change toilet facility from brick to CMU ($44,045): Yes

-- Delete roof deck above performing-arts classroom, add PVC roofing ($178,456): Yes

-- Reduce acoustical wall treatment by 10 percent ($72,891): Yes 

-- Delete wood paneling at School Committee Room ($119,984): Yes

-- Reduce glass guardrail by 25 percent ($84,718): Yes

-- Reduce AV/sound systems by 10 percent ($197,998): No

-- Reduce exterior sunshades by 10 percent ($156,000): No

-- Relocate payroll offices to Town Hall ($804,372): Split vote, to be decided

-- Cost-estimate correction (erroneous interior space) ($275,958): Yes

Subtotal of the list above: $8,979,866

Suggested to add back:

-- Turf fields for baseball and softball, which is higher than the cost of grass ($1,130,264): Yes

Total potential value-engineering items ($7,849,602)

-- Change brick at athletics wing to CMU ($252,381): No

Kent Werst asked fellow committee member John Cole, who had suggested Jan. 29 that the committee see whether it could reduce the project total to $290 million, whether he was "satisfied as an architect" that all big-ticket items had been addressed. Cole said he was.

Memo explains school-payroll issue

Apart from possible new numbers and an official vote Feb. 5, the committee expects a separate vote on a proposal to move the school administration's payroll office to Town Hall.

That item was ranked first in a list of programmatic items for the building committee to consider removing from the project. The School Committee agreed to the list at a two-hour special meeting Jan. 30.

In a memo, School Committee Chair Kirsi Allison-Ampe wrote that the committee "had extensive discussion about the merits of the educational program and the items suggested, and feels strongly that no educational program items be omitted from the project.

"However, the Committee did respect the charge given and has created a rank order, listed below. Additionally, although suggested as a potential cost-cutting measure by the administration, the Committee did not feel the Alternative PE [physical education] space should be reduced in size, and removed it from the rank order list."

"Further discussion regarded the Schematic Design VE list [see straw votes above]. The Committee strongly felt that those items should be considered well before looking to the educational program for cost savings. The Committee did specifically support the inclusion of the Bike Path Connection and the traffic light in the project, but otherwise left these VE items to the Building Committee for decision making.

"Near the end of the meeting, after the rank order list had been created, a motion was made as follows: to recommend that if necessary, the Payroll Office be moved out of the High School, and to have that change be ranked before any of the educational items. This suggestion was not supported by the Superintendent. However, after much discussion by the Committee, the motion passed, 5-2. The rank order list below reflects this.

School Committee ranks cuts

"School Committee rank order if additional cuts must be made:

"1. Move Payroll out of the High School

"2. Reduce the size of Menotomy Preschool Classrooms

"3. Reduce the size of the Chorus classroom

"4. Reduce the size of the Black Box Theatre

"5. Reduce the size of the LABBB program space"

Public participation

During public participation, four residents from an audience of five spoke.

Gordon Jamieson, a Precinct 12 Town Meeting member, thanked the committee for its thoughtful work. He urged spending on ways to encourage bicycles and called having turf fields "a no-brainer."

He said columns are not worth $2.5 million, "with all due respect to Carl." He was referring to Carl Wagner, part of a group that wants the committee to restart the process. Wagner was not present.

Michael DeLisi suggested having a budget floor, perhaps set at $270 million, and working from there to add items in -- not a budget ceiling, called by the state at $308 million.

Laura Notman urged a durable building to last a lifetime. She said "turf is something can be done later, " and that historical items could be funded by the community or alumni. "I'm 100 percent behind the project," she said.

Peter, whose last name was inaudible, praised the rebuilding and asked that the Menotomy Preschool be taken out of the project and moved to the former Parmenter, because its location at AHS lacks trees and open space. "I would hate to see project voted down by an inflated price," he said.


Jan. 30, 2019: AHS Building Committee supports new total cost: $299M

Jan. 26, 2019: AHS rebuild committee supports refined design
Jan. 22, 2018, HMFH full presentation >>
Jan. 19, 2019: Board weighs where to site prekindergarten, district offices in AHS rebuild
Jan. 15, 2019: Second AHS rebuild forum draws estimated 200 -- 25 with questions 
First forum, Nov. 28, 2018: Fears about cost may divide town, but numbers face more scrutiny
Dec. 5, 2018: AHS rebuild committee directs architect to work with tradition
Nov. 24, 2018: AHS rebuild committee reviews 3 new exterior designs, gives go-ahead to memorial effort
Nov. 10, 2018: AHS design discussion turns to interior ideas, and reaction is positive
Sept. 5, 2018: AHS rebuild design raises questions, but process has just begun
Aug. 29: AHS rebuild approved to move on to schematic design stage
June 26, 2018: DESIGN CHOSEN: High school to be rebuilt, not renovated
June 6, 2018: AHS rebuild process moves toward one design by end of June
 Official information about the high school building project  
June 7, ", 2018: THIRD FORUM: 100 tour AHS, look into future; hear flexibility touted
Jan. 12, 2018: 125 attend as public process to launch AHS update underway
Dec. 20, 2017: Could new AHS be built elsewhere in town? 4 sites suggested
Dec. 12,"2017: Designer chosen for revamped Arlington High project
Oct. 4, 2017: 3 finalists chosen to design revamped Arlington High

This news summary was published Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, and updated Feb. 3, to report a full summary; Feb. 4, to add an item to the cut list; and Feb. 5, to add link to items considered in late January.

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