Friday, January 13, 2012

Citizens for the New Franklin High School

For those looking for information on what's happening in Franklin one of the major stories to follow this year will be the proposal for the new high school. I was able to report on the organizational meeting of the "Citizens for the New Franklin High School" on Thursday evening. I will not be able to take an active role in this effort. With all that is going on with the family and my work on the Food Pantry board, I will do what I can to report on the matter to keep all in Franklin informed.

Over 60 Almost 80 people have gathered here in the library in the middle of Franklin High School to start the committee to promote and advocate for the new high school proposal.

School Building Committee Chair Tom Mercer is providing an overview of the work performed to date. The various proposal put together, what was rated and ranked, pros and cons, then ultimately the MSBA invited Franklin into the "Model School" program.

Participating were at least one representative from the Finance Committee, many of the School Committee and Town Council members.

Among the items shared:

The Whitman-Hanson model school has been replicated 8 times around the state. One other model school has been replicated once. The other two model schools have not yet been replicated.

The foot print of the new building is two-thirds of the size of the existing building. It goes up three stories to reduce the foot print over the existing space.

There is 850 seat auditorium/theater in the new design.

MSBA will vote on Jan 25th to approve or deny our proposal. The School Building Committee will then come to the Town Council asking for a debt exclusion with a target date for the vote - March 27. The Town Council has final say on the debt exclusion and date for the vote.

If all goes well, ground will be broken this fall and the new building should be open in the fall of 2014.

The total cost of the project is projected to be $104.5 M
Franklin's share would be $47 M. The State will pick up 59.52% of the cost (the balance).
When the project started the expected reimbursement was expected to be 30-34%

The debt exclusion is for a twenty year period. It will be an increasing cost and then flat for the remainder of the twenty year term. Compared to an override, the debt exclusion increase in taxes will expire at twenty years. The override never expires (unless there is an 'underride' - and yes, it does happen but not frequently in MA).

Tom is doing this 'road show' several times and the schedule will continue to develop.

The group has a Facebook page
There is a Twitter account created:  https://twitter.com/#!/sayYEStoFHS
There will likely be a website (link to be added when available)

The other model schools being built with the Whitman-Hanson model are coming in on or under budget and schedule.

One of the major items bringing the current high school to warning status is the lack of handicap access. The cost to provide accessibility to the current facility still wouldn't address other issues affecting the warning status.

The current facility is experiencing a rash of electric shorts causing fire alarms. This is part of the overall infrastructure problem.

Important dates
Jan 31 - Finance Committee meeting to preview the proposal and make their vote
Feb 1 - Town Council meeting
Feb 28 - School Committee meeting

The model school is a take it or leave it proposal Franklin can get a 104.5 million facility for $47M.

"Citizens for a New Franklin High School"

Additional information on the high school project can be found in this Franklin Matters collection
http://www.franklinmatters.org/2011/12/collection-high-school-building-project.html

Note: this was originally posted to Franklin Matters!