Selectmen approve submittal of document to state grant program
Selectmen unanimously and with very little discussion voted at their Feb. 26 meeting to authorize Hopkinton Public Schools Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh to submit a statement of interest (SOI) to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, ensuring the submittal will meet the MSBA’s April 12 deadline.
As described in a memo from Cavanaugh addressed to the board and to the School Committee, the MSBA’s grant program “is a non-entitlement, competitive program, and grants are distributed by the MSBA Board of Directors based on need and urgency, as expressed by the district and validated by the MSBA. Submitting an SOI is not an invitation into the MSBA’s capital pipeline; it is the first step in the MSBA’s program. Moving forward in the MSBA’s process requires further collaboration between the district and the MSBA.”
The goal, according to Cavanaugh, is to do a build and renovate project at the Elmwood School.
“We are very concerned with the enrollment growth in the community,” Cavanaugh told the board. “Since Jan. 1 — and I know we were just here talking about our budget — we have enrolled 32 [additional] students again, so they are coming and they are coming very quickly.”
In order for the submittal to be completed, the board was required to read and vote on a very particular motion, and minutes from the meeting also are required to be submitted.
“It does not guarantee that we will be in; it doesn’t say anything about the town paying any money,” Cavanaugh said.
What would happen, she said, is that sometime around November or December the town would be invited into the eligibility phase. If invited, the town would then have 270 days to complete several preliminary requirements that include:
- A certification of the district’s understanding of the grant program rules by executing an initial compliance certification;
- Forming a School Building Committee and submitting the membership to the MSBA for acceptance;
- A summary of the district’s existing maintenance practices;
- Certification of a design enrollment for the proposed project agreed upon with the MSBA (may not be applicable for repair assessments depending on the proposed scope of work);
- Confirmation of community authorization and funding to proceed;
- Execution of the MSBA’s standard feasibility study agreement, which establishes a process for the district to be reimbursed for eligible expenses.
According to Cavanaugh, it’s a very long process and, if invited in, it can take up to five years before opening the doors to a new school.
“I think the more quickly we act, the better off we will be,” she said.
In addition to a vote by the Board of Selectmen, a vote by the School Committee also is required. When asked by BOS Chair Claire Wright if it had occurred, School Committee Chair Nancy Cavanaugh assured her it had.
“And how did that go?” joked Brendan Tedstone.
According to the selectmen’s meeting agenda, the board previously approved the submission of similar applications in the last two years. Each year, the MSBA did not invite Hopkinton into its capital pipeline program.