For more than ten (10) years, educators, School Committee members, parents, staff, and students at Attleboro High School have recognized the need to make substantial repairs, renovations, or even build a new High School for Attleboro. On January 24, 2012, the Municipal Council voted to submit a Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) asking for state aid to replace the windows, doors, and heating system at the High School. The Council renewed this authorization on two subsequent occasions (April 30, 2013 and February 11, 2014). On October 22, 2014, the MSBA sent a delegation to Attleboro to tour the High School. While he delegation was complimentary of the efforts in maintaining the building, it suggested that a major renovation or new building would be a better use of funds. Therefore, on January 14, 2015, the MSBA invited Attleboro to leave the Accelerated Repair Program and to enter the CORE Program for a major renovation on construction of a new school.
On October 20, 2015, the Municipal Council approved a loan authorization of 1.2 million dollars to be used to hire professional Consultants, an Owner’s Project Manager, and an Architect., and, on November 15, 2015, the MSBA invited Attleboro to conduct a feasibility study. At this time, the City appointed a School Building Committee (“SBC”) to oversee the project.
In the Spring of 2016, the SBC issued a request for proposals to hire an Owners’ Project Manager. After an open, rigorous, quality-based competition, the SBC chose Skanska to be the Project Manager. With the aid of Skanska, the SBC then held a similar competition to hire an architect. The SBC chose Kaestle Boos Associates at the end of that process. Both of these choices were approved by the MSBA.
Over the course of the summer of 2016, the architects conducted a complete analysis of Attleboro High School. That analysis demonstrated that, while the building is well maintained, it is in need of major upgrades, and does not meet modern codes, such as handicap, energy, fire safety or seismic codes.
In September, 2016, the SBC gathered 50 members of the community for three days of visioning at Sensata Technologies. This visioning process confirmed that our current building is not well adapted to the teaching and learning styles which would be necessary to produce a 21st Century education. Through this process, the SBC, and the visioning participants, endorsed plans for a learning environment that will allow our high school students to be instructed in a way that will prepare them for this century’s jobs with this century’s skills. In furtherance of these plans, the School Department developed an educational plan that outlines the programs and priorities of our educators for Attleboro High School. That plan was adopted by the School Committee in September, 2016, and was submitted to the MSBA shortly thereafter. Using the results of the visioning sessions and the educational plan, the Architects designed options for the High School from October, 2016, through February, 2017. These options focused on three possibilities as required by the MSBA. The first option was to simply repair Attleboro High School. The second was to design a major addition to the high school and renovate the remaining portion. The third was be to design a new high school.
In January, 2017, Skanska, with the aid of independent appraisers, prepared preliminary cost estimates for all of the designs. The cost estimates released at that time were that repairing the high school would cost approximately $197 million dollars, building a major addition and renovating the rest would cost approximately $280 million dollars, and building a new school would cost approximately $260 million dollars.
In the spring of 2017, the SBC made several public presentations at Attleboro High School and the City’s elementary schools, during which it explained the process, the findings of its work to date, and the cost estimates for a repair, a renovation and addition, and a new school. In June, 2017, the School Committee endorsed new school option “4B” as its preferred option for the new high school project. Thereafter, also in June, 2017, the SBC voted to submit new school option “4B” to the MSBA as Attleboro’s preferred option. The SBC will send a delegation, including representatives from Skansa and Kaestle Boos Associates, to a meeting before the MSBA in which it will discuss its preferred option and also advocate for additional reimbursement from the MSBA for the project.
Assuming that the MSBA approves the SBC’s choice in July, the SBC will then further develop and refine the choice until December, 2017. After developing refined plans and obtaining a new cost estimate, the SBC will submit the revised plans to the MSBA for its December 23, 2017, meeting. If those plans are accepted, the City will then sign a Project Funding Agreement with the MSBA. The MSBA will then require the City, within 120 days, to prove that it can fund its portion of the project costs. The State contribution to a $260-million-dollar new school would be at least $130 million dollars. The City cannot fund the debt service on its $130 million dollar share for a new high school out of its current operating budget, and would therefore need to ask the voters to approve a debt exclusion to pay for the high school. In order to meet the 120 day deadline, a special election to approve the debt exclusion would take place in March or April, 2018.