At the October 25, 2023, Board of Directors Meeting, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) not only approved the Scope & Budget Agreement for the Town, clearing the way for the Town vote on November 7th, but also increased their Project Funding Limits Policy, increasing the MSBA Grant of the East Longmeadow High School (ELHS) Project by $19 million. The previous $393/SF building cap was increased to $550/SF and the previous $39/SF sitework cap was increased to $55/SF, thereby increasing our MSBA grant from $63M to $82M.
With the $19 million savings to East Longmeadow taxpayers, if the proposed Project is accepted at the November 7th debt exclusion vote, the tax impact will be reduced from the previously reported ~$990-~$1,040 per year, *based on the average single-family home (assessed value) of $339,811, to ~$812-$867 per year, *based on the average single-family home (assessed value). Or put another way, the estimated tax rate impact per $1,000 of assessed value will be reduced from the previously reported ~$2.90-$3.06 per year, to ~$2.39-$2.56 per year*.
Missed the 10/19/23 ELHS Building Project Community Forum?
- Watch the ELCAT Recording
- Review the presentation materials (*updated to reflect the recent 10/25/23 $19M MSBA Grant increase)
Most Recent MSBA Submission: Schematic Design Submission (Dated August 2023)
Why do we need a new High School?
The existing facility is comprised of three buildings constructed over 60 years ago; 1959, 1964, 1973. While the District has invested in ongoing maintenance of the existing building, the wholescale needs of the facility are significant and costly. Addressing these needs are paramount to meet the District’s educational goals for the future. After six years of failed attempts, in 2019, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) accepted the Town’s application to participate in the MSBA rebuilding program. The MSBA offered East Longmeadow HS a grant opportunity for the main following reasons (abbreviated list):
- Overwhelmed electrical system
- Lack of air conditioning and adequate air circulation
- Lack of sprinklers
- Need for hazmat remediation
- Unsafe site circulation
- Inadequate science labs and other major concerns
What will the new High School Include?
High School Project Highlights:
- Construction of a new high school that meets the District's educational vision
- Accessible building and site
- New auditorium for music, drama, and assembly areas
- New science, engineering, and culinary arts labs
- Media center designed around 21st-century learning
- A larger gymnasium
- Safer parking and circulation
- New press box, concession stand, and rest rooms at the existing stadium
- New fields, including softball fields, tennis, and basketball courts
- Outdoor teaching areas
- Up-to-date instructional technology and furnishings
- Inclusion of District Central Offices, IT Department, and ELCAT Studio
- A LEED Certified, high performing, all-electric building with photovoltaics that will produce up to one-third of its energy costs
- An air conditioned and efficiently heated building supported by an emergency generator
Pool Project Highlights:
- New 6 lane pool to serve community and school
- Separate and secure entry – controlled access
- between pool and school
- Can be used by the community while school is in session
- Can host larger meets (possible revenue stream)
- Improved accessibility for all swimmers
What will it cost?
High School Project By The Numbers
|Est. MSBA Grant:||$63M|
|Est. Town Share:||$114.5M|
|Est. Total Project Cost:||$177.5M|
|Est. Tax Impact on *average single-family home (assessed value)||~$990-~$1,040/yr|
Pool Project By The Numbers
|Est. Town Share:||$16.7M|
|Est. Total Project Cost:||$16.7M|
|Est. Tax Impact on *average single-family home (assessed value)|
*Tax Impact assumptions: 2023 average assessed single family home value = $339,811. Over a 30-year loan, tax impact will fluctuate over time, having a slightly smaller impact for the first few years. Interest rates are estimated (at 5%). Tax rate impact assumes no increase in assessed value.
Why not renovate?
The School Building Committee (SBC) looked at a base repair option and found that cost savings were outweighed by the educational outcomes and long-term benefits of an entirely new school designed to meet the District and community's needs.
Specific downsides to a renovation project are:
- Poor overall plan organization
- Results in undersized classrooms
- Requires lowering ceiling heights to accommodate ventilation and sprinklers
- Security concerns associated with entry and exit locations and site control
- Variance requirements for accessibility issues
- Continued dependence on natural gas boilers
- Continued operational expense associated with less efficient building design
- Expense and programmatic challenges of relocating students and staff during the two-year (minimum) renovation process
- Would not provide a new pool or larger gym
- A new design will allow educators to deliver 21st-century instruction in a safe and welcoming environment
Based on early Preferred Schematic Report (PSR) estimates, the code upgrade/base repair total project cost was projected at $120M*.
Why is this project the best fit for East Longmeadow?
The proposed design evolved through two years of planning and community input, and it is clearly the best choice for East Longmeadow. The design concept is a significantly better value than the base repair and addition/renovation options, it has a shorter construction timeline, and it minimizes disruption to the existing school during construction, it improves traffic flow and access to athletic fields, creates accessible and inclusive learning environments, meets the expectations of a carefully crafted education plan, and helps achieve the Town’s sustainability goals. The new East Longmeadow High School will allow educators to deliver 21st-century instruction in a safe and welcoming environment.
- On November 7th, 2023, a town-wide debt exclusion vote will be held at Birchland Park Middle School, 7 AM - 8 PM, to appropriate the full project cost.
- If Approved… On November 7th, 2023, at Birchland Park Middle School, a town-wide debt exclusion vote will be held to appropriate the full project cost. If approved by the voters, the project will begin the Detailed Design phase, with construction tentatively scheduled to begin in the Summer of 2024 and the New HS to open in Fall of 2026. The class of 2027 will be in the new high school building.
If Failed… If the voters reject the project at the 11/7 Special Election the school will remain as is. The District could re-apply for a new core MSBA project or undertake renovations without State financial assistance. After a failed debt exclusion vote, it can take 5 to 7 years to be re-accepted. Under any circumstances, the Town will be spending significant funds on the high school in the near future. Rebuilding the high school now with state funds and without delay is the most cost-effective choice for East Longmeadow taxpayers.
School Building Committee Update
- 8/10 SBC Meeting: The SBC approved the total project budget of $177.5M, including construction costs, technology and furniture, and owner and project manager contingencies. ELCAT Recording of the 8/10 SBC Meeting.
- 8/24 SBC Meeting: The SBC approved submission of the the Schematic Design (SD) package. ELCAT Recording of the 8/24 SBC Meeting.
- ELCAT Recording of the 9/14 SBC Meeting