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New high school's project budget and scope approved

Date: 11/30/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM -- The new high school project is inching ever closer to its groundbreaking -- and as part of that progress, the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School Committee approved the project scope and budget documents at their Nov. 24 meeting.

According to Superintendent Martin O'Shea, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) sent the "milestone document" to the district on Nov. 9 for review. O'Shea explained that agreement effectively cements the partnership between the district and the MSBA.

The project's budget, architectural drawings, space summary (which includes the size and number of classrooms, the size of the auditorium, cafeteria, etc.), cash flow, exhibits on furniture and fixtures, construction contract insurance and reimbursement agreement are all included in the document.

Both O'Shea and the school district's legal counsel, Attorney Jim Toomey, read and reviewed the agreement before the School Committee was asked to approve it.

Committee member Scott Chapman made a motion to approve the project's budget and scope and to name committee chair Peter Salerno (or his designee) as the officer and executor of the project.

"This is a historic document for us, going forward," Salerno stated. "The School Committee will be absolutely involved all along the way."

The committee approved Chapman's motions.

Following the vote, Ray Kinghorn, a senior project manager with ARCADIS, the owner's project manager for the new Minnechaug, updated the committee on where the project currently stands.

Kinghorn and a group that included teachers and staff recently visited Ashland High School, the model school for the new Minnechaug, to see what the school will look like and what minor changes, if any, should be made. Kinghorn said the design team will be taking their recommendations into consideration "to make this your school."

The tweaked plans will be brought before the School Committee by January. "We want to make sure the changes important for Minnechaug kids happen," O'Shea said.

Kinghorn also explained the bidding process for the project, for which the state's Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) will provide a list of pre-qualified contractors.

"The [bidding] process begins at the end of December," Kinghorn explained. "One hundred fifty subcontractors are expected for the project." He added that an extremely competitive market will lead to better rates and better laborers, and that an insurance policy will ensure the project is finished.

"It's a very, very aggressive, good bidding atmosphere," he noted.

Kinghorn stated the shovel should be in the ground by the end of April.