Elementary School Building Update
Published on Sep 21, 2016 12:46

Millis Resident:

The Elementary School Building Committee (ESBC) would like to update you on recent activity and next steps.

Project Status

After submitting the Preliminary Design Program (PDP) application to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in February, the ESBC was tasked with narrowing four options identified in the PDP to one preferred option to be submitted to the MSBA in a Preferred Schematic Report (PSR.)  Over late winter and spring, the ESBC held numerous meetings to thoroughly evaluate all four options with the goal of identifying a fiscally responsible option that meets the educational programing needs of the Millis Public Schools. 

On June 15, 2016, the ESBC initially voted on a new school option near the Middle School/High School in the area of the existing tennis courts.  Shortly after the June initial vote, residents who live near the existing campus expressed concerns about the potential impact to traffic patterns that the new school could potentially create.  The ESBC and traffic consultants met with residents mid-July to evaluate their concerns.  On July 25, 2016 the ESBC took a final vote on the preferred option for the PSR.  The ESBC unanimously voted on an option that sited the school on the knoll between the existing Clyde Brown School and the Middle School/High School.  This option is away from the tennis courts and the initial site voted on 6/15.  The PSR was submitted to the MSBA in early August.

 After a preliminary review of the PSR the MSBA Facilities Assessment Subcommittee met with members of the ESBC in August.  At that meeting the MSBA members, as it does in all submissions, identified a number of questions it had about the submitted PSR.  Overall, the MSBA looked favorably on the PSR that was submitted by Millis and one MSBA member was especially complimentary in her praise of the submitted education plan. This member provided unprecedented outstanding feedback and informed the ESBC that the education plan submitted will now serve as a model plan for all future applicants.  The ESBC is answering questions and providing clarification on its PSR.  The ESBC anticipates a favorable vote from the MSBA board on the preferred option when the MSBA board meets on September 28th.

 Next MSBA Submission

Once approved, the PSR becomes the foundation for the Schematic Design phase.  At the end of the Schematic Design phase, the ESBC will submit a robust design of sufficient detail (25% of the design) to establish the scope, budget, maximum reimbursement and schedule for the proposed project. It is at this time, that the ESBC will know definitively the tax impact of the project on Millis residents. The Schematic Design will be submitted to the MSBA in March 2017 with an expected MSBA Board vote in May 2017.  Prior to submitting the Schematic Design, the ESBC plans to hold community forums in order to provide residents with the opportunity the learn more about the project and to ask any and all questions they have about the project.   

 Town Meeting Vote

As residents recall at the May 2016 Town Meeting residents voted overwhelming to give permission for the ESBC to initiate the process of transferring control of land parcels designated as both “town” land and “park” land to “school” control in order to proceed with the building project.  Per the MSBA, all school building projects have to be built on land controlled by the local school district.  The new school option, identified in the PSR submitted to the MSBA, is sited on land presently controlled by the Town and not the Schools.  The next step in the process is a home-rule petition submitted to the Massachusetts legislature (an Article 97 petition).  In order to complete the transfer of designated “park” land, the ESBC is required to seek the petition to complete the transfer from “park” land to regular “town” control.

 Within the next couple of weeks both the School Committee and the Board of Selectmen will vote to swap control of currently town controlled parcels to school control and vice versa, from school controlled to town controlled.  Some of the present town controlled parcels are designated as “park” land.  The ESBC is working with Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to designate replacement “park land” with the Town Park and school campus area.  The amount of park land transferred will be replicated at a minimum for one-to-one, meaning the total acreage of park land will not decrease. Our initial conversations with the EOEA have been very positive.

 There will be a vote at the November Town Meeting where residents will authorize the town to seek the home-rule petition.  The ESBC plans on holding at least one community forum prior to Town Meeting to provide residents with the opportunity to ask questions about the transfer of land.  

 Upcoming Meetings

  • The Board of Selectmen meets on Thursday, September 22 at 6:00 PM.  The Board will vote to transfer land designated as town land to school control. 

 The ESBC looks forward to working cooperatively with Millis residents on this great opportunity and value your feedback to upgrade our elementary school facility, while ensuring that our educational objectives are met and that the much needed building system and infrastructure issues are addressed.

 For additional information on the project please visit www.millisschoolproject.org.    

For questions on the project please email schoolproject@millis.net.   

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