Minuteman School Committee votes to borrow $144.9M to build new high school

Minuteman High School drawing, main front entrance Conceptual drawing provided by Minuteman shows the front entrance.

Just days after receiving state approval of a new regional agreement governing the Minuteman School District, the Minuteman School Committee has voted to borrow money to build a new high school.

The new school, to be built on land in Lincoln near the existing school, will replace the current facility constructed in the early 1970s.

The School Committee approved bonding in the amount of $144,922,478 on a vote of 13-0-1, with the member from Sudbury abstaining. Members from Arlington and Wayland did not attend the meeting.

"This is a big, exciting step for the project and it’s been a very long time coming," said Ford Spalding, chairman of the Minuteman School Building Committee.

Dr. Mitchell D. Chester, the state’s commissioner of elementary and secondary education, approved the new regional agreement March 11. The district School Committee followed with its bonding vote Tuesday, March 15.

Many town officials had said that approving a new regional agreement was critical to the ultimate success of the Minuteman building project.

A large portion of the project will be paid by the state.

In January, the state School Building Authority (MSBA) voted unanimously to authorize its executive director to enter into a project funding agreement for a maximum total facilities grant of $44,139,213. Under the grant, the MSBA will pay up to 44.75 percent of eligible project costs, up from the 40 percent figure the MSBA had originally committed.

Dr. Edward Bouquillon, Minuteman superintendent, wrote in an email March 18 that the 44.75-percent reimbursement is for eligible costs, as defined in 963 CMR 2.16 Audit Procedures, MSBA School Building Grant Program. See those definitions here >> 

This will result in a net reimbursement rate of about 30 percent. 

The Minuteman School Committee vote gives member towns 60 days to hold a Town Meeting to reject the borrowing. If no town votes to reject during that period, the borrowing is approved.

The new Minuteman Regional Agreement creates a four-year rolling average for the assessment of operating costs, gives larger towns more of a say in some school committee decisions, eliminates the five-student minimum charged to member towns for capital costs, and requires out-of-district communities to help pay for their share of capital costs of a new building.

Under the new agreement six towns, most of which send few students to Minuteman, were able to withdraw from the district. Town Meetings in Boxborough, Carlisle, Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston voted to exercise that option. However, voters in Dover rejected the idea by a better than 2-to-1 margin.

The Minuteman building project has been in the planning stages for nearly eight years. Minuteman submitted its original Statement of Interest to the MSBA in the fall of 2008.

Since fiscal 2011, the district has invested nearly $7 million in maintenance and to the building’s outdated mechanical systems. A subcommittee established by the School Building Committee estimated that required repairs to the existing facility would cost more than $100 million.

The New England Association of Schools & Colleges has placed Minuteman’s accreditation on “warning” status, solely because of the condition of the facility.

Minuteman is an award-winning regional high school that integrates robust academic and career & technical learning to deliver a revolutionary competitive advantage. The school serves a diverse student body with multiple learning styles, expanding opportunities for college and career success.

This announcement was published Friday, March 18, 2016.