Size Matters! Part 2

First, some business…

  • Deadline to visit the Hanscom Middle School on May 21st is NOON on MONDAY (5/14)! We need a few more people in order to run the tour. Please contact Janet Gross:
  • Tuesday, May 15th: Community Workshop 7:00pm – 9:30pm, Reed/Brooks Gym
    • The latest info on the June 9th concepts; time for Q&A; rank the concepts
    • The more people participate in the workshop, the easier it is to hone the presentation on June 9th!
  • Community Outreach Events:Conversational gatherings tailored to the audience on hand!
    • Monday, May 21st, 8:30am, Lincoln Woods Common Room
    • Thursday, May 24th, 11:00am, The Commons, Great Room
    • Friday, June 1st, 8:15am, Story Room, Lincoln School

Can we have it all for $85M? The SBC challenged itself and the design team to consider whether, for $85M, it is possible to have a compact, educationally transformative, energy efficient building that supports our current curriculum, accommodates our class size policy, and provides enrollment flexibility.  How much square footage would we need, and what would be the trade-offs?

  • Big Picture Cost: Based on the MSBA’s preK-8 model, and accounting for Lincoln-specific curriculum, class-size, and enrollment flexibility factors, a new preK-8 school with a planned enrollment of 660 would need to be about 130,000 – 135,000SF. At $625 – $650/SF for total project cost/SF, the estimated price range would be $81.3M – $87.8M.
  • Trade-offs: No Auditorium; reduction from 2 large gyms to 1 full-sized gym (about Smith Gym size) + a multi-purpose room (about ½ the size of a gym).
    • The Donaldson/Brooks Auditorium w/lecture hall & stage is ~8450SF, and seats about 625. In an all new building, there would be a dining commons that seats up to 350, and incorporates a stage. As noted in last week’s post, towns are required to hold Town Meeting within their borders, and there are also robust drama/music/community programs that fully utilize the Auditorium.
    • The Smith Gym w/stage is ~7600SF; Reed Gym w/locker rooms is ~11,100SF.
    • All of the concepts on the table renovate the Auditorium and the Reed Gym, preserving two “over-sized” (in MSBA terms), but heavily used spaces that are a vital part of the community.
  • At its May 2ndmeeting, the SBC came to the conclusion that a project that eliminates the Auditorium or the Reed Gym is not a viable solution to meet the needs of the school or the Town.

What are the educational differences between L2, L3, and C? A lot of the conversation in SBC meetings and in the wider community has been about understanding the educational (and cost) differences between these three concepts.

Current Educational Space Model vs Transformational Educational Space Model:  All 3 concepts include a dining commons that creates a new, centralized “heart” of the school.  The differences between the concepts are: 1) level of renovation; 2) amount of new construction; and 3) how the educational spaces are organized.

  • L2 provides a very nicely renovated version of the current educational model: strings of classrooms along a corridor. There are a couple of “flexible spaces” built in that could be shared among grade levels. They are not adjacent to all of the classrooms that might want to use them. At this conceptual phase, the breakdown of renovation/new construction for L2 is as follows:
    • Modest Renovation = 108,380 SF ($250/SF construction cost)
    • Medium Renovation = 13,023 SF ($300/SF construction cost)
    • New Construction = 36,942 SF ($430 – $500/SF construction cost)
  • L3 allows for heavier renovation and some more new construction, which gives the project enough space and budget to transform how the grade 3 – 8 classrooms are organized. The “hub spaces” are common areas that are adjacent to the classrooms and shared by a teaching team.  This allows the teaching model to move from 1 teacher/1 classroom to a team of teachers/grade level. The goal is to meet students’ needs by being able to flexibly group students on a daily basis. To hear more about this kind of model, watch the presentation a group of Lincoln-resident educators made to the SBC. At this conceptual phase, the breakdown of renovation/new construction for L3 is as follows:
    • Modest Renovation = 65,890 SF ($250/SF construction cost)*
    • Medium Renovation = 39,835 SF ($300/SF construction cost)
    • Heavy Renovation = 21,803 SF ($400/SF construction cost)
    • New Construction = 39,160 SF ($430 – $500/SF construction cost)
  • achieves the transformation of teaching spaces as described in L3, has more new construction, and allows more flexibility in how the classroom neighborhoods are arranged. At this conceptual phase, the breakdown of renovation/new construction for C is as follows:
    • Modest Renovation = 22,319 SF ($250/SF construction cost)
    • Medium Renovation = 26,275 SF ($300/SF construction cost)
    • Heavy Renovation = 17,513 SF ($400/SF construction cost)
    • New Construction = 86,791 SF ($430 – $500/SF construction cost)

*Construction costs only include materials and labor – no site work, temporary facilities, escalation, design/engineering fees, or furniture and equipment.

Can we get all the educational benefits of L3 at an L2 price? The short answer is no. The level of renovation that is built into the L2 concept does not allow for the internal reorganization of grade levels. That is what keeps the price lower.

What about those hallways? There has been discussion about the amount of the school currently dedicated to hallways, and how that might change in a more compact school.  Turns out that “apples and oranges” got tangled up in the same basket, and the 50,000SF vs 25,000SF information shared at recent meetings confused the total grossing factor (bathrooms, closets, hallways) with just the hallway space.  The square footage needed to move people from one place to another is roughly the same for the L concepts and the C concept.  However, what does change is the linear distance traveled from one location to another. For example, Kindergarten students currently walk about 600ft from their classrooms to art class.  In the C design, that changes to about 375ft.

Click to see an invitation to Town Meeting:



Size Matters! Part 1

In the building business, square footage = cost. What factors drive school size? Answers to some size FAQ’s are below, but first…

Thank you, DaDDa! The fabulous Lincoln band, DaDDa, performed at a “Rock the Vote” event on Saturday night at Bemis Hall. The event was to raise awareness about the importance of attending the June 9th Special Town Meeting. Kids and grownups had a great time dancing the night away! (DaDDa will also be appearing at Club Codman on May 19th – visit to purchase tickets!)

Tuesday, May 15th: Community Forum! 7:00pm – 9:30pm, Reed/Brooks Gym

  • Help us prepare for June 9th
  • Minimal presentation, mostly focused on Q & A
  • We’ll ask you to rank the concepts – crucial information for the SBC and other boards as we prepare for June!

Monday, May 21st is “Back to School” Day! It’s a double-header – Here is your chance to ride a bus and see both the Lincoln and Hanscom Middle Schools in action! To visit one or both of the schools, please contact Janice Gross ( by NOON on Monday, May 14th.  If you are going to Hanscom, you must provide your full legal name (as shown on your license) and your date of birth. To gain access to the Base, you will need to travel with the group by bus.

  • 9:30am: Bus leaves from Hartwell
  • 10:00am: Tour the Hanscom Middle School (HMS)
  • 12:00pm: Return to Hartwell – lunch will be provided in the Multipurpose room
  • 12:45pm: Tour the Lincoln School

If you just want to tour the Lincoln School, please let Janice know, and meet at the Smith office by 12:45.

~ A minimum of 10 people is needed to run the tour. ~

Size and Cost FAQ’s – Part 1 (During this final month, we will be increasing the number of blog posts per week to try to address as many questions as possible!)

What factors determine the size of a school? The primary factors are the number of grades, enrollment, class-size policy, the curriculum and programs offered, and the non-school requirements or uses of the building.

How many grades are in the school? Currently the Lincoln School houses grades K – 8. Ideally, the School Committee and Administration would like to move the pre-school out of the Hartwell building into the Lincoln School, which is reflected in concepts L2, L3, C, and FPC (updated cost summaries are here).

  • Why move preK? As a public school system, we are required to provide a “Free and Appropriate Public Education” (FAPE) for children with special needs starting as young as 2 years 9 months. In accordance with best practices, Lincoln operates an integrated model, meaning children with special needs are schooled with a matching number of typically developing children. Currently our music, art, and wellness teachers, and our occupational and physical therapists serve children in the Lincoln School and Hartwell buildings. Having the preK students in the same building would allow for more time with students. Click here to read more about the preK program.

For what enrollment are we planning? The SBC is planning for 660 students.  This figure was validated by our work with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in 2012.

  • While our enrollment for the 2017-18 school year is 544 (not including preK), we need to plan options that will meet the town’s needs over over the next 30 to 50 years (remember, we’re taking out a 30-year bond). The average enrollment since 2000 is 643, and as recently as 2005 our total enrollment was 674.
  • As a small town with a single school, we do not have capacity across other school buildings (e.g. multiple elementary schools) to absorb variations in enrollment. As such, we have to plan a little more conservatively.

What is the Class Size Policy? The Lincoln community strongly values a low student:teacher ratio.  Click here to see Lincoln’s Class Size Policy.

What is the Lincoln School curriculum?  Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, World Languages (starting in 3rdgrade), Art, Music (including band, orchestra, and chorus), Drama, Wellness, Library/Media, Technology, and Engineering form the core of the curriculum.  The curriculum is supported by literacy and math specialists, special educators, occupational and physical therapists, counselors, and social workers. The school also offers after-school middle-school sports teams. Visit the Lincoln School website for more information.

What are the “non-school” (community!) requirements? We are a one-school-town, and the Lincoln School serves the entire community in many ways. As a result, and because we do not have a high school within our town, we have facilities that are larger than those found in a typical elementary or middle school.

  • Every town is required to have a meeting place within its borders to gather for Town Meeting. Over the years a variety of locations in Lincoln have filled this need – In 1963, after decades of planning, the town built the Donaldson Auditorium. This is a shared community space – not only does it house our robust drama and music programs, middle school meetings, and special presentations, but it is the the home of Town Meeting, Girl Scout ceremonies, lectures, and many other events.
  • Gyms: The Smith Gym (1953) was billed as the “auditasium” in the 1951 Town Report. It is larger than current guidelines for an elementary gym because it was built as a shared community resource that supported physical education and Town Meeting. It is currently used for lunch, physical education, school meetings, Science Share, PTO movie night, school and community sports teams, and voting. The Reed Gym (1970) was built for middle school physical education.  It is currently used for lunch, physical education, Winter Carnival (Bingo and Energy Blaster!), community events (SBC forums!), after school sports, the LSF Spelling Bee, and Parks & Recreation programs.

Stay tuned for “Size Matters, Part 2”  that will go into square footage details!

Back to School Day!

MONDAY, MAY 21st – Tour both the Hanscom Middle School (HMS) and the Lincoln School in one day! 

Deadline to sign up is NOON on Monday, May 14th!!!

Here’s your chance to see both schools! The tour starts with a bus ride to Hanscom from Hartwell, followed by lunch back in Hartwell and a tour of the Lincoln School.

Here’s how it works:

  • 9:30 am: Bus leaves from Hartwell
  • 10:00am – 12:00pm: Tour of Hanscom Middle School
  • 12:00pm:  Bus returns to Hartwell; lunch will be provided in the Hartwell Multipurpose Room
  • 12:45pm – 2:45pm: Tour of the Lincoln School

If you’ve already seen HMS, but want to tour the Lincoln School, meet at the Smith office by 12:45. 

~~Deadline is NOON on May 14th!!!~~

To go on the tours, you must contact Janice Gross, Assistant to the Superintendent, and provide your full legal name (as shown on your license) and your date of birth.  Email:  

A minimum of 10 people is needed to run the tour.

FAQ’s – Part 2

Last week’s blog post addressed the following frequently asked questions:

  • What is the impact of a building on education? (Click here to see the recent “Form Follows Function” presentation to the SBC by a group of resident educators)
  • How do hubs and common areas change teaching and learning?
  • Are we building an all-new school?
  • What do the cost estimates include?
  • How do our cost estimates compare to other schools?

With the recent discussion about school costs, here is some additional information:

What are construction vs total project costs?
Construction Costs = Materials + Labor utilized in the renovation/construction of a building.
Total Project Costs = Construction Costs + Architectural and Engineering Fees; other Professional Fees; Site Work; Temporary Facilities and Phasing; Fixtures, Furniture & Equipment (FF&E). This encompasses every aspect of the project.

How are cost estimates determined at this phase? We are currently in the first of 6 phases in the building process. At this preliminary concept stage, school construction costs are estimated in a straightforward way: the size of the building (square feet) multiplied by a cost estimate per square foot (cost/SF). For projects such as ours that include renovation, there are different costs/SF depending on whether a space is getting light, medium, or heavy renovation.
(Click here to see the different levels of renovation included in each of the six Lincoln School concepts.)
At this point in the project the following contingencies are included in the total project cost:

  • 12% escalation (to get us to the mid-point of construction sometime at the end of 2021)
  • 10% design and pricing contingencies (a “lack of crystal ball” buffer)
  • $1M for temporary classrooms and the work needed move students in and out
  • 24% soft costs (architectural, engineering fees; permits; furniture and equipment, etc.)

As the project goes through the next “schematic design” phase, the costs will become more precise, and the contingencies smaller.

How does this compare to similar projects? When benchmarking against other projects, it’s very important to look at when (and in which state) they were built. Construction costs have risen significantly over the past decade. Because of the information gathered by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), the per-square-foot costs to build schools in Massachusetts are well understood. Click on the image to explore the MSBA’s interactive graph of recent, current, and future projects. Remember – the graph shows construction costs, NOT total project costs. The projected range for FY2019 construction costs is $410-530/sf (with an outlier for an arts academy at $630/sf — overachievers!)

Why have costs risen so much? Construction costs are rising because we are fortunate to have a relatively healthy regional economy, which drives demand for new buildings. Increased demand for new construction in areas such as Kendall Square and the Seaport District, has driven up the rates for the limited resources for materials and labor in our area. Because of this, the costs we are showing for Lincoln School project (which will not start until Spring 2020), include a 5% annual escalation cost

Are the Lincoln cost estimates in line with other projects? Here is a table outlining the construction and total project costs. They are well within range of the projects shown on the graph above.

* In 2008, Lincoln passed the Town Facilities Energy Performance Standard.  In order to meet the goals of the standard, these concepts have the potential to made fully sustainable, or “net-zero.” To do so, the up-front total project costs change to: L2 @ $85M or $537/SF; L3 @ $94M or $569/SF; C   @ $97M or $634/SF.

While we do have some leeway on per-square-foot costs within a range, it’s very unlikely that we’ll find a way to build a school that’s substantially cheaper (on a per-square-foot basis) than any other area school built in the last 5 to 10 years. To see further history of MA school projects (including the Lincoln 2012 project), here is MSBA data prior to 2014, and for elementary and middle schools after 2014.

Why is the basic repair so much?
We have a school in dire need of repairs and systems overhauls.

  • Numerous studies over the past two decades have concluded that a single project is the fiscally responsible way to address all of the major systems (roof, windows, heat, plumbing, electrical, etc).
  • Because of the extensive repair work that needs to be done, the building must be brought up to current safety, security, and accessibility codes. To learn more about the current conditions, click here, and to see what is included in the scope of repair work, click here.
  • Auditorium, gyms, hallways: (click here to check out the education space program spreadsheet)
    • The auditorium (including stage, lecture hall, storage, etc), home of robust drama & music programs and Town Meeting, is about 9500SF
    • Two gyms: The Smith and Reed/Brooks gyms (with Smith stage, storage, etc.) are ~ 19,400SF
    • About 50,000SF (36%!) of the current school is dedicated to hallways.

And finally…Multi-board meeting, Monday April 30th, 6pm, Hartwell Pod B; next SBC meeting Wednesday, May 2nd, 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room; + so many outreach sessions in May!


Hanscom Faculty Video

Teachers Talk: Educational Impact of a Building Project

Lincoln Faculty Video

What is the impact of a building project on education? In this short video, you’ll hear some of our Lincoln School faculty talk about the current building. 

How do hubs and common areas change teaching and learning? Hanscom Middle School faculty talk about the impact of the new (2016) building (note: break-out spaces = hubs in this video). Click here to see photos of the building in action.  And for insight into how the HMS administrators and faculty prepared for their move into the new building, watch the May 26, 2016 School Committee meeting (fast forward to the 1 hour 43 minute mark).

Are we building an all-new school? No! All of the concepts renovate the Auditorium and the Reed Gym. Five (5) of the 6 concepts (including the “C” or “Compact” concept) renovate the Auditorium, Reed Gym, and the Library link. Only the Full Program Concept (which has not been actively developed due to cost) considers demolition of the Library link.

What do the cost estimates include? The cost estimates for the 6 Lincoln School concepts are for the total project cost of the school.  The estimates include: materials, labor, architectural design work, engineering, construction management, site work, permits and fees, escalation costs (to account for the fact that the project wouldn’t break ground until 2020) and FF&E (furniture, fittings, and equipment).  At this conceptual phase of the project, there are many contingencies built into the estimates.  After we choose a concept at the June 9th meeting, the project will go into the “schematic design” phase.  At the end of that phase, the design work will be 20% complete, major systems and materials will be chosen, and we will have more detailed cost estimates that will allow us to bond the project (fall 2018). To read more about project phases, visit the FAQ home page.

How do our cost estimates compare to other school projects in Massachusetts? The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) keeps track of the projects it funds. Click here to see an interactive graph that compares the costs of projects when they are in schematic design to the actual construction contract bids.  Please note, this is a comparison of “construction costs” NOT “total project costs.” When looking at the graph, note that the estimated construction costs for the 6 Lincoln School project concepts range from $283/SF to $497/SF. Other MSBA data on recent school projects can be found here.

How can I learn more? There will be a 2-part multi-board meeting on Monday, April 30th in Hartwell Pod B.

  • From 6:00 -7:30pm the focus will be on an update of the Campus Projects Briefing Document and a planning discussion for June 9th.  
  • From 7:30 – 9:00pm the conversation will focus on understanding both short-term costs and long-term value of the project.

What are the plans for the site? The design team will be talking about roadways, bus and car traffic patterns, bike paths, sidewalks, and parking at this week’s SBC meeting. Please join us on Wednesday, April 25th at 7:00pm in the Hartwell multipurpose room.

What we heard on April 10th…And what’s next?

About 150 community members attended the April 10th workshops (Thank you!). After learning more about the six concepts currently being considered, table groups were asked to brainstorm with each other and come up with two they definitely thought should be brought forward for the vote on June 9th. Here’s what they said: Feedback from April 10 Workshops

The Special Town Meeting on June 9th is fast approaching, and the School Building Committee has scheduled a number of events to give the community as much opportunity as possible to learn, question, and discuss the options before us.

The next SBC meeting is on April 25th at 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room. Included on the agenda is a discussion of site considerations: traffic patterns, bus pick-up/drop-off, parking, sidewalks, and bike paths. On April 27th at 1:00pm, the Council on Aging is hosting an information session about property tax mitigation programs, and on April 30th at 6pm will be a multi-board meeting to 1) talk about costs; and 2) prepare for June 9th. Below is the calendar of SBC meetings and outreach events in May and June (click on the image to see a full-sized version). The public is invited to any and all! Feedback always welcome at

We now have 325 subscribers to the website! If you’re one of them, thank you (and please forward this email to your friends and encourage them to sign up)! If you’re not, please visit and enter your email address into the “subscribe” box. 

So here’s the dilemma…

…what is the right number of choices?

Currently there are 6 school concepts under consideration, ranging from $49M to $115M, and offering different levels of transformation of our educational spaces.

  • Some community members say this is too many choices for June 9th.
  • When the School Building Committee eliminates concepts, some community members wonder if there are solutions we’ve missed.
  • We get a lot of feedback that the community values a solution that transforms the educational spaces & is sustainable.
  • We get a lot of feedback that the price tag is high.

How would you narrow it down? We need you to help us answer that question on April 10th! (two workshop sessions: 8am & 7pm, Reed/Brooks Gym)

Why attend? What are we going to do?

  • Get more in-depth information about both the Lincoln School and Community Center concepts, including sustainability information.
  • Make the case! Which concepts do you think we should put forward on June 9th? Your feedback will have a direct impact on how we shape the Special Town Meeting.

A bit of history…

  • Many months before the 2012 vote on the Lincoln School project, the SBC of the time had to choose a “preferred option” to submit to the State.
  • After many public meetings, the committee used a complex evaluation matrix that weighed criteria such educational benefits, community benefits, sustainability, construction time, and cost.
  • The project did not get the 2/3 majority it needed at Town Meeting.
  • After the vote, the School Committee promised that in a future process there would be a Town vote to choose a pathway.
  • This is why multiple concepts are being brought forward on JUNE 9th!
  • We want you to be part of the process to help us determine how many/which concepts should be considered.
  • There’s more work after June! There will be a Special Town Meeting and a Ballot Vote to approve the $ in the fall (dates TBA soon!) A 2/3 vote at the STM, and a majority vote at the ballot are required for the project to happen.

Important Dates:

  • April 27th, 1pm: Are you eligible for a property tax exemption, deferral, or abatement? Bemis Hall
  • April 30th, 6pm – 7:30pm: Multi-Board Meeting – Update on “Campus Project Briefing Document” & discussion about June 9th Special Town Meeting. Hartwell Multipurpose Room
  • April 30th, 7:30pm – 9pm:  Looking at Costs – hosted by the Finance & Capital Planning Committees. Hartwell Multipurpose Room
  • May 3rd, 9am: SBC @ Lincoln Nursery School
  • May 5th: SBC @ Lincoln Library. Time TBA
  • May 11th, 10am: SBC @ Council on Aging
  • More to come, stay tuned!

Sharing Their Thoughts…

What are your friends and neighbors thinking about the Lincoln School and Community Center projects? Here are the comments that were collected at Town Meeting: Town Meeting Feedback

Remember, you can always send comments, thoughts, and ideas to the School Building Committee using the “Contact the SBC” page on the SBC website (


APRIL 10th: COMMUNITY WORKSHOPS, Two sessions! 8:00 – 10:00am and 7:00 – 9:00pm, Reed/Brooks Gym. These are joint workshops with the Community Center committee (CCPPDC).

APRIL 30th: MULTI-BOARD MEETING, 6:00 – 7:30pm, Hartwell Multipurpose Room. Update on the Campus Projects Briefing Document; Planning for the June 9th Special Town Meeting.

APRIL 30TH: UNDERSTANDING COSTS, 7:30 – 9:00pm, Hartwell Multipurpose Room. The Finance and Capital Planning Committees are hosting a meeting to discuss project costs. What do project costs include? What are the current market conditions affecting building costs?


Town Meeting Wrap Up

About 700 Lincoln voters attended Town Meeting yesterday! Of those, 120 filled out the Campus Projects Feedback Form, and 110 answered Question 1 (please refer to the feedback form below).  Here’s what they said:

  • 36 respondents (33%) said they preferred Campus Layout #1 
  • 73 (66%) said they preferred Campus Layout #2
  • 1 (1%) person preferred Campus Layout #3

If you did not have the opportunity to respond, please contact the SBC with your comments/questions (this will be a private message), or click the “comments” button at the end of this post (this will be a public comment).

March 30th – SBC forum at the Council on Aging, 10am, Bemis Hall

April 10th – Community Workshops: See you at either 8 – 10am, or 7 – 9pm, Reed/Brooks Gym.

April 30th – Multi Board Meeting (details, TBA)


Feedback Form, 2018 Town Meeting