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Study: Work on existing schools expected to cost at least $280 million to accommodate student growth

by | Jan 8, 2023 | Education, Featured: Education

Whether the Hopkinton School Committee chooses to make the proposed Elmwood School house Grades 2-3 or Grades 2-3-4, it would cost between $280 million and $302 million for work on the other schools to handle population growth — so says a system-wide study conducted by Perkins Eastman and Vertex commissioned by the committee.

The nearly 100-page document looks at projected enrollment and capacity through 2032 and the particular needs at each building. It also outlines potential costs and timelines.

Representatives from the firms led a presentation during Thursday’s school committee meeting which featured detailed analyses, charts and drawings.

Vertex Senior Project Manager Christopher Eberly said although the study is independent of the Elmwood School project, “They inform each other, and it’s a companion piece to it.”

Robert Bell, Perkins Eastman principal in charge of educational programming, said the district’s modulars and additions have been keeping pace with enrollment. However, in the 10-year projections, they see a “wave” of large enrollment increases on the horizon.

“As you go up the grades, there is more elbow room,” Bell said.

He noted that related arts, cafeteria/kitchen, gym and other common spaces have been factored into the study’s space considerations.

After the Elmwood project, if it has a Grades 2-3 configuration, an additional 108,000 gross square feet would be needed across the other school buildings. If Elmwood is constructed with a Grades 2-3-4 setup, an additional 68,000 gross square feet would be needed, according to the study.

Bell said in the latter scenario, Hopkinton Middle School would house Grades 7-8, and space becomes available that also becomes part of the possible high school changes as well.

Broken down per facility, highlighted additions would include the following:

  • Marathon (plus 22,800 gross square feet (GSF)/additions — two story, 12 rooms, expanded kitchen and gym);
  • Hopkins (plus 24,300 GSF, not including four room modulars; two story, eight rooms, new cafeteria/kitchen, stage, art and music areas, repurposed custodial storage and utility needs);
  • Grades 6-8 middle school (plus 36,000 GSF, two story, 12 rooms, two story, six science room addition, expanded kitchen/cafeteria, 24 replicated and 40 additional parking spaces, creation of a new perimeter of cojoined buildings);
  • Grades 7-8 Middle School (plus 3,600 GSF additions, small addition to increase science labs);
  • Grades 9- 12 high school (plus 17,000 GSF additions, 12,000 GSF repurposed, small addition using existing middle school space; number of internal changes for programming; repurpose two story, 9.5 room middle school wing for high school, Grade 9 academy possible.

If the high school does not get tied into the middle school campus, Bell said a building wing could be added in front, although wetlands would be a factor and diversion work would be required.

School Committee vice chair Amanda Fargiano said that her takeaway through that portion of the presentation is that none of the buildings are adequate to support enrollment projections.

“We knew that,” Fargiano said. “It’s good and bad to see it proven out.” She said that as the board makes decisions, having an “achievable road map” is helpful.

Vertex Project Director Jeffrey D’Amico said there is more certainty with the enrollment numbers for higher grades because the students are “in the pipeline” as opposed to Marathon’s projections when many of the children have not been born yet.

“With the students you have now, there is a sustained wave and there is a need in all of the [school] buildings in town,” D’Amico said.

The suggested order of work in the study has completion of Grades 2-3 Elmwood happening in Sept. 2026; Grades 4-5 Hopkins in June 2026; Marathon in 2027 and the Grades 6-8 middle school and Grades 9-12 high school in 2029.

The only difference to the timeline if Elmwood has Grades 2-4 would be work at the middle school and high school would be done in 2028 instead.

With a Grades 2-3 Elmwood, all the additions to other buildings would cost an estimated $295 million to $302 million once 20-25 percent reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority is factored.

If, however, a Grades 2-3-4 Elmwood is chosen, the approximate costs would be $280 million to $288 million, once reimbursement of 20 to 25 percent is included.

It was pointed out the latter option shows up to a $15 million savings because state reimbursement would be higher with an additional grade level covered by the MSBA.

School Committee member Lya Batlle-Rafferty said “the cost looks intimidating” but added part of the reason people keep moving into Hopkinton is because of the school system. She said if the district wants the schools to keep running well, it may be an investment the town needs to make.

Fargiano said she’d rather know “how big the beast is,” and said the report is a great tool to communicate to its town partners.

Chairman Nancy Cavanaugh said the numbers were “staggering” and “jaw dropping” but that it is valuable to have the information upfront.

1 Comment

  1. Ria McNamara

    These additional costs to the school system are not being covered by the Legacy Farms agreement. So now the costs are becoming taxes that cannot be carried by the seniors on social security. Where do you want the seniors to go?

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