Norwood High School First to Open Under Model School Program

August 24, 2011

Treasurer Grossman Cuts Ribbon on State's First "Model School" Project

Norwood High School First to Open Under New Cost-Saving Construction Approach

State Treasurer Steven Grossman, Chairman of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) and MSBA Executive Director Katherine Craven today helped dedicate the new $68.6 million Norwood High School, marking the first opening of a school facility built under the
state’s cost-saving “Model School Program."

“Thanks to the vision and leadership of the MSBA, the Model School Program has been a resounding success,” said Treasurer Grossman. “By utilizing the best design elements from other successful construction projects, the Commonwealth’s school-building resources are maximized, permitting more projects overall to move through the funding pipeline.”

The Model School Program incorporates successful design elements from existing schools into the design of new facilities. Rather than “reinventing the wheel” for each new school project, the use of an existing “model” simplifies the design process, streamlines construction, reduces the amount of time it takes to build a new facility by at least one year, and utilizes design dynamics that have already been deemed successful by students, teachers, and administrators.

The MSBA is reimbursing 59.21 percent of the $68.6 million eligible cost of the new Norwood High School. The design for the 227,500 square-foot school is based on the Whitman-Hanson Regional High School and includes a college-style library and performing arts facilities. It replaces a 187,500 square-foot facility consisting of four buildings constructed between 1925 and 1962. Through the Model School Program, MSBA and Norwood officials were able to significantly lower the price of a project initially estimated to cost over $100 million and begin construction in May of 2009 instead of November of 2009.

“As the inaugural model school, the new Norwood High School or the ‘school on a hill’ is a testament to the dedication of the local community to the education of its students,” said Katherine Craven, MSBA Executive Director. “By participating in the MSBA Model School Program, the Town of Norwood and the MSBA saved taxpayers $35 million in design and construction costs, while demonstrating to other communities across the Commonwealth how to build a high-quality facility in a fiscally-responsible manner that benefits taxpayers, administrators, teachers and students for years to come.”

The Model School Program was created in 2008, and since that time, 18 districts are now participating in the initiative. The MSBA reimburses a minimum of 31 percent and up to a maximum of 80 percent of eligible costs of potential school additions, renovations, or replacement projects. Districts that take advantage of the Model School Program are eligible for five additional reimbursement incentive points.

The MSBA strives to find the right-sized, most fiscally responsible and educationally appropriate solutions to create safe and sound learning environments. The MSBA reformed the Commonwealth’s formerly rampant and unsustainable school building program, which was more than $11 billion in debt.

Since the inception of the agency, the MSBA has made $7.9 billion in reimbursements to cities, towns and regional school districts for school construction projects. These timely payments have saved municipalities over $2.9 billion in avoided local interest costs and have provided much needed cash flow to communities.