Monomoy Regional School District - Frequently Asked Questions

Information & Frequently Asked Questions
Monomoy Regional School District

August 14, 2012

*Also see the Frequently Asked Questions below that were posted on August 1, 2012.

We are providing the following information in response to the several inquiries that we have received in connection with the proposed new Monomoy Regional High School project.

On July 25, 2012, the MSBA’s Board of Directors (the “Board”) approved the proposed new, Model High School for the Monomoy Regional School District (the “District”). The Board approved an estimated maximum grant amount of $29,696,270 based on the District’s reimbursement rate of 51.53% of approved, eligible costs. This 51.53% reimbursement rate includes five points for the District’s participation in the Model School Program, a total value of approximately $2,881,454. The reimbursement rate also includes six points for being a newly formed regional school district, a total value of approximately $3,457,748. The District now has until November 15, 2012, 120 days from the date of the Board meeting, to obtain and certify local approval of an appropriation to fully fund the proposed project and all other local votes or approvals showing acceptance of the cost, site, type, scope, and timeline for the proposed project.
 
Failed Local Vote
 
The MSBA’s regulations specifically include this 120-day deadline for a local appropriation to ensure that the MSBA’s capital program funds are targeted toward projects and school districts that are ready and able to make the financial commitment and move forward in a timely manner.  The 120-day period provides districts with time to communicate with voters and garner local support for the project. Given the overwhelming capital needs of school districts across the Commonwealth and the MSBA’s limited capital program funds, the MSBA cannot indefinitely tie up funds allocated for a project that lacks local support. To date, the Board has approved more than 130 major renovation or construction projects, and of these, five failed to secure local approval with their first vote. Of these five, two have been removed from the MSBA’s capital pipeline and have not received a second invitation.
 
In the event that the District fails to approve funding for the proposed new Monomoy Regional High School by November 15, 2012, pursuant to the MSBA’s failed vote policy, by no later than 10 business days following the failed vote, the District would have to submit to the MSBA a plan that: (1) presents the vote results, (2) explains the District’s understanding of the reason(s) for the failed vote, and (3) sets forth the District’s plan to remedy the failed vote and a suggested timeline for such a remedy.  The MSBA then would review the plan and determine whether it could continue to set aside MSBA funds for the proposed project.  
 
The MSBA’s Board of Directors approved a new, 168,000 square-foot facility for the District to serve grades 8-12, based on a mutually agreed-upon enrollment of 700 students. The Board also approved a Model School for the new Monomoy Regional High School. As long as the District continues to pursue substantially the same project approved by the Board, the MSBA will retain the work completed prior to the failed vote and use that as a basis of a proposed project if the District secures funding in the near term. If, however, the District decides to pursue a project with a scope different from the proposed project approved by the Board, as determined by the MSBA, the District would have to submit a new Statement of Interest and await a second invitation to enter the MSBA’s capital pipeline. If the MSBA’s Board of Directors were to issue a second invitation, the District would have to conduct a Feasibility Study and schematic design at its own expense, without any reimbursement from the MSBA for those phases of the work. Please refer to the MSBA’s failed vote policy for more information.
 
As noted above, the Board has approved more than 130 major renovation or construction projects, and the local voters have not approved five of these projects. Of these five, two have been removed from the MSBA’s capital pipeline and have not received a second invitation, two were subsequently approved and remain in the capital pipeline, and one is being scheduled for a second vote. 
 
Fifty-Year Useful Life, Modulars
 
The MSBA collaborates with communities to find the right-sized, educationally-appropriate, and fiscally-prudent solution to a school district’s facility needs. Accordingly, the MSBA has promulgated regulations and established guidelines and policies that help further these goals. Pursuant to the MSBA’s regulations, for example, a school facility that receives funding from the MSBA must have a useful life of at least 50 years as a public school facility. The MSBA’s regulations also require new school facilities to meet certain day-lighting, view, and square footage requirements. All MSBA-funded projects must meet these MSBA’s standards. 
 
The MSBA would consider permanent modular construction as a potentially appropriate solution to a district’s facility deficiencies, but the modulars would have to meet the MSBA’s standards and requirements, including the 50-year useful life, day-lighting, square footage, and other requirements. In addition, although the modular industry may be evolving, we have some concerns that would have to be addressed before the MSBA could approve a grant for modular construction. Our concerns include the following: the durability and “permanence” of the modulars; the procurement of modulars, insofar as it appears that several of the vendors have unique designs and construction systems making an equal basis for bidding more complex; and, dimensional constraints (e.g., smaller than desired windows) because modulars are designed to be transported.
 
High Schools with Small Enrollments
 
While the MSBA is not expressly prohibited from awarding a grant for a high school with an enrollment of less than 600, the MSBA believes that these smaller high schools are not desirable as they present many challenges for providing a robust educational program. Therefore, the MSBA strongly encourages smaller towns to consider alternative options, such as regionalization. The MSBA is pleased that Chatham and Harwich decided to regionalize. The creation of the Monomoy Regional School District has resulted in a proposed high school project that will allow the District to take advantage of additional educational opportunities and reduce operating expenses. Regionalization also resulted in an additional six incentive reimbursement points for the District, which have a total value of approximately $3,457,748 for this proposed project.
 
Bid Savings Information
 
Please click here for information about construction bids on MSBA-funded school projects. 
 
The Bid Results for Awarded Construction Contracts with Executed Project Funding Agreement Amendments document contains the bid results for school construction contracts involving various school types (Elementary, Middle, Middle-High, and High Schools) that have been awarded and for which an amendment to the associated Project Funding Agreement has been executed to incorporate the bid results. The information contained in these spreadsheets is for informational purposes only and may have changed based on additional approved changes to the construction contract. Reviewers should contact the District for the most current information.
 
 

Frequently Asked Questions
August 1, 2012

The Monomoy Regional School District is a newly formed Regional School District serving grades PK-12 in the Towns of Chatham and Harwich.  The new Regional School District was approved by the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education on December 29, 2010, and the Monomoy Regional School District Agreement was executed on January 19, 2011.  On November 17, 2009, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (“MSBA”) invited the District into the Capital Pipeline, and since that time, the District has been working collaboratively with the MSBA to determine the best solution for the District.

Where is the Monomoy High School building project in the MSBA grant process?

On July 25, 2012, the MSBA’s Board of Directors authorized the Executive Director to enter into a Project Scope and Budget Agreement and a Project Funding Agreement (see Funding the Project) with the Monomoy Regional School District to replace the existing Harwich High School facility with a new Monomoy Regional High School on the existing site, as part of the MSBA’s Model School Program.

The Board approved a maximum grant amount of $29,696,270, based on the District’s reimbursement rate of 51.53% of eligible, approved costs. 

Based upon the Board’s approval, the District and the MSBA will enter into a Project Scope and Budget Agreement that defines the project scope, budget, schedule, and MSBA participation in the project. Once the District secures community authorization and financial support, the MSBA and the District will enter into a Project Funding Agreement, which also defines the scope, budget, and schedule for the project and sets forth the terms and conditions pursuant to which the District will receive its grant from the MSBA.  After the Project Funding Agreement has been executed, the District and its Designer and Owner’s Project Manager will continue to advance toward design development, construction documentation, and bidding.  The project team and the MSBA continue to monitor the project to ensure it remains on track and meets the expectations of both the District and the MSBA as defined in the Project Funding Agreement.  Additionally, the MSBA will assign a Commissioning Agent to the project, who will facilitate an intensive quality assurance process and ensure that the new building operates efficiently and as the owner intended. 

What will the funds appropriated at Town Meeting be used for?

The funds appropriated at Town Meeting will cover the costs of the project’s total budget, which includes costs associated with advancing the project through design development, construction documents, construction, and project closeout.

What happens if the Town Meeting vote fails and the District fails to appropriate funding for this project?

Please refer to the MSBA’s Policy Statement regarding the impact on MSBA funding if a City, Town or Regional School District fails to vote to appropriate funding for the proposed project.

The Policy Statement provides, in part:  Pursuant to the MSBA’s regulations, a city, town or regional school district that has been approved by the Board for a proposed project has 120 days from the date of the Board’s approval to obtain and certify local approval of an appropriation to fully fund the proposed project and all other local votes or approvals showing acceptance of the cost, site, type, scope and timeline for the proposed project.

The MSBA appreciates the challenges that school districts face, but the MSBA’s regulations specifically include this 120-day deadline for a local appropriation to ensure that the MSBA’s capital program funds are targeted toward projects and school districts that are ready and able to make the financial commitment and move forward in a timely manner. Given the overwhelming capital needs of school districts across the Commonwealth and the MSBA’s limited capital program funds, the MSBA cannot indefinitely tie up funds allocated for a project that lacks local support.

In the event that a school district fails to approve funding for a proposed project within the 120-day deadline, by no later than 10 business days following the failed vote, the school district must submit to the MSBA a plan that: (1) presents the vote results, (2) explains the school district’s understanding of the reason(s) for the failed vote, and (3) sets forth the school district’s plan to remedy the failed vote and a suggested timeline for such a remedy. The MSBA will review the plan and determine whether it can continue to set aside MSBA funds for the proposed project. However, a failed local vote likely will result in the school district being required to submit a new Statement of Interest to the MSBA and await a second invitation from the MSBA to enter the feasibility study phase of the MSBA’s process.

Would the MSBA participate in funding an addition/renovation project in lieu of a new high school for Monomoy?

The MSBA invited the District into the MSBA’s Model School Program following a comprehensive review and evaluation of possible solutions for the replacement of the Harwich High School. The MSBA determined that the Model School would be the most cost-effective and educationally-appropriate solution.

The MSBA’s Model School Program

The Model School Program seeks to effectively adapt and re-use the design of successful, recently constructed elementary, middle and high schools. Model Schools are efficient in design and easy to maintain, contain optimal classroom and science lab space, can easily accommodate higher or lower enrollments, incorporate sustainable, “green” design elements when possible and are flexible in educational programming spaces while encouraging community use.

Districts participating in the Model School Program are eligible to receive five additional percentage points, which are added to the base rate of MSBA reimbursement. In the current economy, the savings and higher reimbursements can mean the difference between a school district being able to afford a new facility and being forced to continue using a deficient one.

Why are the construction/project costs for Monomoy higher than that of the original Ashland HS?

The Ashland High School design is the Model that the District decided to use to construct the new Monomoy Regional High School facility.  The project costs for the Monomoy facility are higher than the costs for Ashland High School, for which the bids were received in December 2003, because there have been two building code updates since 2003 which have a cost impact to the project. Further, the construction costs in 2003 were in the $175/SF range and since then, costs have escalated to around $300/SF and the trend is that costs will continue to rise. The Monomoy Regional High School Project is projected to cost $315/SF, which is escalated through 2013. 

Also, a model school still requires the same amount of labor and material to construct as a traditionally designed building resulting in the same square foot costs. The cost savings of a model school result from potentially lower change orders, reduced designer fees, and savings due to a more streamlined process of document development. 

Additionally, the Model has evolved by incorporating updates to energy, acoustical, HVAC, plumbing, electrical and technology building system requirements.

Finally, the Monomoy Regional High School design was customized to address factors that are unique to the facility, including high-wind loads that impact the cost of the building enclosure, windows, roof system, and roof top mechanical equipment.  The site also requires a waste water treatment facility. 

Why do we have a construction contingency cost?

The project costs include a construction contingency to provide a budget for the District to use to deal with unanticipated changes during construction.  Although Model Schools should yield a reduction in change orders, potential unknown factors related to the site can occur.

The District has the construction contingency to cover unexpected costs, but may not need to use all the funds. The budget is average when compared with other Model High School projects.