Why did we pursue a Schematic Design and Feasibility Study for Tyngsborough Middle School?

The Tyngsborough Board of Selectmen and School Committee, Tyngsborough Public Schools submitted a Statement of Interest (SOI) to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) detailing the need for a new/renovated middle school building. In December 2018, we were formally invited into the Eligibility Period for the development of a Core Project at Tyngsborough Middle School. This is the beginning of the MSBA’s grant approval process. The fact that we are one of only twelve (12) schools, out of seventy (70) applicants, that have been invited into the Eligibility Period, makes it clear that the state, through the MSBA process, agrees that Tyngsborough is in need of an updated middle school facility.

 

What is the role of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA)?

The MSBA is the state authority that administers and funds a program of grants for Massachusetts school projects. The MSBA mandates a multi-step, rigorous, transparent study and approval process encompassed within the Feasibility Study and will provide Tyngsborough a reimbursement grant of approximately 55% of the eligible Feasibility Study, design and construction costs.

 

What are the important details of the Statement of Interest (SOI)?

A Comprehensive Facilities Assessment (developed in collaboration with Lavallee Brensinger Architects) was completed to examine the physical infrastructure of the buildings in the school district and to determine what actions may be necessary to allow the ongoing long-term use of all the school buildings in the district, including the middle school facility. The goal was to understand the existing conditions of the facilities, identify deficiencies, and recommend improvements as part of a long-term capital spending plan. The study included an evaluation of existing conditions including architectural features, code compliance, the building envelope, structural systems, security, food service equipment, and mechanical, plumbing, fire protection, electrical, communications, and data systems. Recommended actions for TMS include substantial renovation work to the exterior envelope including replacement of all windows and the roof, replacement of all interior finishes, substantial renovation of all toilet rooms, installation of an automatic sprinkler system, replacement of the water distribution system and all plumbing fixtures, replacement of all electrical and communications systems, renovation of the kitchen and replacement of all food service equipment, replacement of mechanical equipment (except for the boilers), and renovations to improve security and access control at the main office. A Programs and Operations Review determined that an updated middle school facility will provide our students and staff with a learning facility that is more appropriate for learning than our current antiquated, fifty-year-old building which has reached its life expectancy. As a result of no longer needing to focus on maintaining and overcoming the limitations of the physical structure, as well as the mechanical and electrical systems of an aging building, the district will be better positioned to continue to implement current and future best practices related to instruction and programming.

 

What is a Schematic Design and Feasibility Study?

A feasibility study is a requirement of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in order to qualify for state-funded reimbursement for any future building project. It is the first step in determining a long-term solution for schools not currently meeting the state’s educational facility standards. During the Feasibility Study, the district and its team collaborate with the MSBA to generate an initial space summary based on the district’s educational program, document existing conditions, establish design parameters, develop and evaluate preliminary and final alternatives, and recommend the most cost-effective and educationally appropriate solution to the MSBA Board of Directors. In order to ascertain MSBA input and approval throughout the Feasibility Study process, the district is required to secure MSBA approval of each of the following study reports.

Preliminary Design Program: The purpose of the Preliminary Design Program is to define the programmatic, functional, spatial, and environmental requirements of the educational facility necessary to meet the district’s educational program, and perform the review and investigation required to clearly define the existing building deficiencies. Based upon a review of the district’s educational program, the designer will prepare a design recommendation, in written and graphic form, for review, clarification, and agreement regarding the educational goals and programmatic space needs for the subject school. The space needs along with an evaluation of existing conditions and site development requirements will form the basis of the designer’s recommendation for an evaluation of alternatives upon which the most educationally appropriate and cost-effective solution may be recommended.

Preferred Schematic Report: The purpose of the Preferred Schematic Report is to summarize the process and conclusions of the Preliminary and Final Evaluation of Alternatives and substantiate and document the district’s selection and recommendation of a preferred solution. The report should address all concerns and questions raised by the MSBA during its review of the Preliminary Design Program and clearly identify any changes incorporated by the district based on further evaluations and considerations. The MSBA Board of Directors must approve the preferred solution for a project before the preferred solution may advance into schematic design.

 

How long will the Feasibility and Schematic Design Study take?

Once the Designer is procured through the MSBA Designer Selection Panel process, which may take up to 4-months, an in-depth analysis of the current condition of the school and site will occur. In parallel to this analysis, a thorough educational programming study will take place with an analysis of potential design solutions; this Feasibility Phase will typically take 8-months to complete. Upon completion of the Feasibility Phase, and subsequent approval from the MSBA Board of Directors to proceed into a Schematic Design, the SBC, OPM, and Designer will complete a robust Schematic Design on the preferred solution. This Schematic Design Phase of the study will include conceptual and schematic designs and drawings for the preferred solution and will take approximately 8-months to complete. The total length of time for the Feasibility and Schematic Design Study will be roughly 18-22 months.

 

What type of projects could be considered?

As a result of the schematic design and feasibility study, the recommendations from MSBA could include a renovation of the existing middle school building, a renovation and addition to the existing middle school building, the construction of an additional “middle school wing” attached to the high school, or the construction of a new building. Given the district’s current structure of shared staff, resources, and tiered bussing schedule, the Norris Rd. campus is the most logical location for a middle school project.

 

How much does a Schematic Design and Feasibility Study cost and when did the community get to decide?

The School Building Committee recommended a warrant article for the Special Town Meeting held on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 7:00 PM at Tyngsborough Elementary School. This warrant requested the community vote to fund a schematic design and feasibility study. The SBC proposed that the cost of this study does not exceed $950,000 approximately fifty-five percent (55%) of which is eligible for reimbursement by the MSBA. A two-thirds vote was required at the Town Meeting and this allowed the SBC to move forward with a Schematic Design and Feasibility Study.

 

What are the community benefits?

In addition to the above-mentioned educational benefits of this project, there is potential for a variety of additional community benefits. While these benefits are currently unknown, in the past, as a result of the high school and elementary school projects, the community benefited from the addition of updated shelter locations, numerous indoor community meeting spaces, athletic fields, tennis courts, and a walking track all of which are utilized on a regular basis.

 

Who is on the School Building Committee?

The SBC is required by the MSBA to be made up of town representatives with backgrounds from construction, architecture, landscape and education as well as the town administrator, the district superintendent of schools, a school committee member, the school principals, district schools' facility management director, at least one teacher from the school, a member of the finance committee or local budget official, and a representative from an office authorized by law to construct school buildings.

 

What is the MSBA?

The MSBA is a state government authority that partners with local communities to create affordable, sustainable and energy efficient public schools across Massachusetts. Created in 2004, the MSBA provides reimbursements to communities based on a pre-determined percentage of eligible school construction costs.