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MSBA approves Longmeadow High School's option 2B

Date: 11/23/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW -- "It is a huge, huge milestone," Christine Swanson, co-chair of the School Building Committee, said of the announcement last Wednesday that the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) authorized the town of Longmeadow to proceed into the schematic design phase for the construction of a new facility to replace the existing Longmeadow High School.

Swanson, who attended the MSBA meeting on Nov. 18, said the authority's board approved Longmeadow's preferred option -- renovation of the 1971 wing and new construction of classroom and core space -- unanimously.

"We were only one of three schools in the area to get approval," Roland Joyal, a member of the School Building Committee (SBC), stated. "Longmeadow's been pushing this [a new facility] for a while, and I thank the MSBA for their confidence in us."

The other schools green-lighted for the next step in the new building process were West Springfield and Easthampton.

"I am pleased to announce that the town of Longmeadow is moving forward in this process," State Treasurer Tim Cahill stated in a press release. "As we continue to fund projects across the Commonwealth, the MSBA will continue to work with each district to make sure the focus remains on creating fiscally responsible blueprints for school construction."

Katherine Crave, executive director for the MSBA, said, "We're looking at a new 185,000 square-foot facility to address structural deficiencies and overcrowding at Longmeadow High School."

Swanson said the schematic design phase starts now, and the plans have to be submitted to the MSBA by mid-February. The project's architect, OMR Architects, will create the design and take what is currently a two-dimensional drawing and make it three-dimensional.

"The SBC will have quite a bit of say in the plans," Joyal told Reminder Publications, "but we'll go back to the people who will be in the building every day [for input] the teachers and faculty and students."

Community volunteers are being sought by the SBC to join a few short-term subcommittees to help in the next phase of the project, which will include communicating with the community and working on gathering donations and fundraising. More information on the volunteer opportunities will be shared at the SBC's Dec. 10 meeting.

"This is definitely very exciting," Joyal said. "It's time [for Longmeadow High School] to move into the 21st century."

At a press conference on Friday, State Rep. Brian Ashe, State Sen. Gale Candaras and Congressman Richard Neal stated their support of the project and congratulated the SBC and the community on the work they've done to get this far.

All three voiced their support of the project to Craven, and Ashe, a 16-year resident of Longmeadow with two children in the district, said, "This means a lot to me. I want to see this done for my children and for all the children in town."

The MSBA Agreement

The preferred option that Longmeadow presented to the MSBA, known as Option 2B, includes 185,000 maximum square feet of new construction with the renovation of the 1971 portion of the facility. Gross square feet will total 237,000, for an estimated cost of $63,795,000. The duration of project is expected to be 27 months.

Longmeadow has also expressed a strong community interest in retaining the existing pool and district administration space and has proposed the renovation of the 1971 portion of the facility to house these spaces, according to a release from the MSBA. All costs associated with the renovation of the 1971 portion of the building shall be borne by the district and are not be eligible for reimbursement by the MSBA.

Upon reviewing the feasibility study and enrollment data, MSBA staff approved the district to proceed into schematic design based upon, and subject to, the following:

  • All initial paperwork required has been processed, including an executed Initial Certificate of Compliance; the composition of the School Building Committee for MSBA approval; and, the enrollment questionnaire.

  • The MSBA has completed an enrollment projection utilizing the enrollment questionnaire completed by Longmeadow and has reviewed Longmeadow's existing high school capacity as provided by the district and an updated status of development under construction in the district. As agreed upon by the district, the MSBA enrollment projection supports an enrollment of 1,000 students for a new Longmeadow High School.

  • The MSBA recommends a preferred schematic design for new construction which must be in full compliance with the 185,000 maximum allowable gross square footage, as determined by the MSBA and in accordance with the MSBA's guidelines for individual spaces.

  • The MSBA shall not participate in any costs associated with the design, repair, renovation, reconstruction or equipping of the 1971 portion of the facility.

  • The preferred schematic design and any resulting project that may be approved by the Board shall not be eligible for any incentive reimbursement points for renovation.

  • The concept layout for the new construction shall be reviewed more fully by the district and its Designer to ensure that the design allows for the flexibility of future expansion, optimizes daylighting and allows direct pathways from the exterior to the spaces typically used by the community.

  • The MSBA shall continue to review construction costs as the project proceeds forward into schematic design and shall reserve the right to obtain its own, separate cost estimate of a renovation option to compare against the new construction option and to utilize this comparison in establishing a project scope and budget for the potential project.

  • The district shall provide the MSBA with a full and accurate description and explanation of its vocational technical programs offered within its curriculum and the building space assigned to such program and the availability and use of vocational technical programs in the region.