HOLDEN, Mass. — Currently in the feasibility phase, the renovation/addition project for Mountview Middle School continues to move forward, with the building committee estimating about a year before the need for voter approval for town funding.
In October 2010, Holden formed a school building committee to determine the best course of action for the 40 year old Mountview Middle School building, which was in significant need of work to keep it viable as a 21st century school.
At town meeting in November, voters approved spending up to $625,000 to study options and develop a detailed plan, and since then the committee has been working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority to move forward.
According to Paul Challenger, chair of the building committee, they anticipate the MSBA to cover 53 percent of the cost of the project, which will be worth about $20 million.
"In exchange for their money, the MSBA requires us to follow their very strict guidelines, starting with the composition of the Building Committee," he explained.
The committee consists of: Holden's town manager, Nancy Galkowski; assistant manager Jacquelyn Kelly; Superintendent Thomas Pandsicio; WRSD Business Manager Peter Brennan; Mountview Principal Erik Githmark; school committee representative Margaret Watson; Challenger as a representative from the finance committee, and three citizens with specific skills - Mike Sherman, Chris Luchessi and Dave White.
"Right from the start the State is controlling the project in a very detailed way, and it has resulted in a very talented committee," added Challenger.
With a maximum enrollment of 800 students planned, the committee now has a grasp on the scope of the project, and has begun moving forward with hiring the people who can make it happen.
For instance, Gary Kaczmarek has been approved as the Owner's Project Manager. A lifelong resident of Holden, Kaczmarek has previously worked on the elementary school and public safety building projects,
Furthermore, during the bidding process for an architect, the committee advocated for Lamoureaux Pagano Associates of Shrewsbury "because they worked with Holden on the elementary school project with award winning results, and have since worked on several other projects with the district and many more in Central Mass,” said Challenger.
The MSBA approved of Pagano as the top choice, and authorized the building committee to hire them.
The feasibility phase starts with an in-depth study of how the district teaches middle school students, so in early June the principal and superintendent will meet with LPA to explain the spaces needed to carry out the program of study in place.
"This, combined with state standards, will define what facilities are required, " said Challenger.
Additionally, there will be study of the strengths and weaknesses of the existing building both functionally and mechanically, as well as of the available land "so that we can determine if a renovation project is the best option," he continued. "We will examine other locations on the site for a new building, and also other sites in town for a new building."
The potential options include renovating and adding on to the existing building, building a new school on the existing sight, building a new school on a different site, and renovating another building in town to become a school.
The study will be presented to the MSBA in July, along with a recommendation by the committee of their preferred choice.
If the MSBA approves, the committee will be authorized to prepare a preliminary design for the project.
"We plan on having these preliminary drawings and cost ready estimates ready for MSBA review in August," said Challenger.
The MSBA will vote on the plans in October, and may authorize the board to draw up more detailed schematics, which would allow for a more accurate estimate of project cost.
After filing these in February of 2013, the committee will meet with the MSBA in March, and if approved they will be authorized to return to the Town and request funding for Holden's share of the project at Special Town Meeting.
If approved at town meeting, there will be a ballot vote for the debt exclusion necessary to authorize borrowing the required funds.
"This project will proceed in a very orderly and public manner, and we welcome your input at any time," said Challenger. "We are preparing a website to post as much information as we can."
The Mountview Building Committee holds public meetings at 6 p.m. every second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Holden Municipal Light Department.