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Woodland Project Manager Meets With Board

The School Committee was introduced to a Jeff Luxenburg, a representative from Joslin Lesser and Associates, the project management firm for the Woodland Elementary School Project, at the Board's February 7 meeting. Although this was the first direct contact with the firm for many of the Board members, Acting Chairperson Robert Lanzetta said the committee has been apprised of the project's progress through regular updates.

"We were excited when your company was selected as the Project Manager," Lanzetta told Luxenburg, "and we just wanted an opportunity to meet you and hear a little about you and where you're at."

Luxenburg obliged with a brief introduction to Joslin and Lesser & Associates, which is a project management firm that has worked on various school projects including an elementary school in Norfolk and the new Uxbridge High School.

Regarding the Woodland project, Luxenburg advised the Board that the next phase is to select an architect; a process that involves a panel appointed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), the state agency that is partially funding the project. The panel, Luxenburg explained, consists of 16 members, including three local representatives. The project has already attracted proposals from several architectural firms. "[There are] a nice range of proposals for architects from excellent firms," Luxenburg said, "We're very pleased with the response we've gotten, so far."

The decision on whether to build an entirely new school or whether renovations to the existing building would meet the district's needs has yet to be determined. Plans for feasible options will be drawn up and then presented to the MSBA for their approval. "Sometimes it's cheaper to build new and sometimes it's cheaper to renovate," Luxenburg stated. "It depends on the condition [of the existing building] and what you're trying to accomplish."

Board member Christine Boyle asked about the state's preference to have communities choose their building designs from plans that the MSBA has already drawn up. "They have something called a Model School ... which is what you're referring to," Luxenburg replied. "It's a program where they've taken plans from other places and said 'Just build this here'." He added, however, that the MSBA must first "invite" a community to participate in the Model School Program, something they have not yet done in Milford.

"In the feasibility study, we can look at that [Model School Program] and see if that actually makes sense," Luxenburg added. "We have to make sure that the building that [the MSBA is] suggesting works with the site that you have. You also have to look at your educational program and see if [a Model School plan] works for your educational program."

Regarding the lifecycle of a new school, Luxenburg said the MSBA requires plans to assume a 50-year life cycle but added there are variances within that including a likely five year shelf life for technology, since it changes so quickly, a probable 30 years for mechanical systems and 20 years for a roof.

Lanzetta asked about incorporating "green" or energy-efficient components, which might reduce energy costs. Luxenburg assured the Board that operational costs for the building would be considered during the design phase, saying, "You want to make sure that the cost to run the building is taken into consideration."

He further assured the board that his firm is known to be very cost-conscience. He added, "We've been very successful in making sure that we bring in projects on-budget."

Woodland School Building Project Time-line

Jeff Luxenburg of Joslin Lesser and Associates, the Woodland Elementary School Building project management firm, met with the School Committee on February 7. Luxenburg was asked by Superintendent of Schools Robert Tremblay to detail the ongoing project timeline:

• Proposals from architectural firms are currently being accepted.

• On March 5, proposals will go to a review panel.

• About March 19 the panel will rank the top three proposals.

• The first phase of the feasibility study for the project begins "which takes about a couple of months." Simultaneously, an educational program is developed and submitted to the MSBA "in what is called a Preliminary Design Program (PDP)", which also takes into consideration items such as the number of classrooms, size of the cafeteria, etc. This is sent to the MSBA four weeks prior to the scheduled MSBA project review.

• The PDP then goes into "what is called a Preferred Schematic" which is given to the MSBA six weeks prior to the review. The Preferred Schematic indicates which option the School Building Committee has endorsed.

• Once MSBA approval is secured, "you can do the schematic design of that option."

• The schematic design is sent to the MSBA approximately four months later.

• If approved, the MSBA will determine the reimbursement rate to the town and the design plan would have 120 days to secure local approval.

• After receiving local approval, the state would draw up a formal Project Funding Agreement.

• Once funding for the project has been officially secured, a full design is undertaken.

• Construction would begin approximately one year following completion of the full design.

• "To build this building (it takes) about 18 months to two years - so, we're about three years away from opening a new building (from this point)."


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