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Tag: Community Input

Special Town Meeting – March 28th

In the wake of the February 12 meeting when the SBC had to cut $3.5M of scope out of the project to keep it on time and on budget, the SBC met this past Monday morning to discuss options.  At that meeting, the SBC voted to pursue funding for the restoration of key project elements.  

This vote launched a round of communication with the School Committee, Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee to request, and plan, for a Special Town Meeting to be held on the same day as the Annual Town Meeting (March 28).  Following is a set of FAQs that provide an overview of where we are and how we got here.  In addition, please mark your calendars for a Community Forum on Wednesday, March 18, 7:30pm, Hartwell Multipurpose Room.

Lincoln School ProjectSpecial Town Meeting, March 28, 2020FAQs

The Lincoln School project will transform our educational and community spaces.  The project is the first net zero school renovation of its kind in the state.  And the recent need to remove $3.5M from the scope of the project does not change what it will achieve.  Throughout the design process, the School Building Committee (SBC) has used the community’s five core project goals to stay focused on what is important and to guide us through difficult decisions. Those goals are: 

  1. support innovative education
  2. prioritize the environment and sustainability
  3. enhance the use of the school as a community resource
  4. respect the feel and history of the campus
  5. make decisions that have long-term value

All along, as we went through the value engineering (VE) process, the SBC achieved necessary reductions in the project without impinging on those core values. But the need to reduce the construction budget by $3.5M as a result of the construction bid process has impacted aspects of the project that the SBC has worked hard to protect.  

We did not believe that we would ever be in a position to have to compromise core values to keep the project within budget. The SBC promised a fully renovated, educationally transformative net zero school for $93.9M, which we have achieved.  In this last round of value engineering, the SBC had to reduce or eliminate some items that we know are important to many members of the community, such as: Bike paths/walkways; playground equipment; outdoor learning and community spaces; optimization of natural daylight (reduced interior glass and the exterior sun controls for classrooms); tree replacement; new furniture and technology infrastructure that supports our building’s innovative learning environment.

The timing of the bid process did not afford sufficient time to fully consider the implications on the project within our annual budget and planning cycle leading up to Town Meeting. The Special Town Meeting is the community’s opportunity to decide whether some or all elements will be restored.

When is the Special Town Meeting?

The same day as the Annual Town Meeting:  Saturday, March 28, 2020 at 9:30am.

Why is the Special Town Meeting on the same day as the Annual Town Meeting?

The warrant closed on January 26, and the only way to consider a new item is to call a Special Town Meeting.  On February 24, at the request of the School Committee, the Board of Selectmen voted to call a Special Town Meeting for the purpose of considering additional capital requests for the Lincoln School building project.

What is being decided at the Special Town Meeting?

Residents will consider approving items that the SBC has prioritized.  About $2M in additional funds is required to reinstate key features of the school project that had to be eliminated to close the gap between the final estimates and the actual construction bids. The SBC is exploring options that use existing Free Cash and/or Stabilization funds.

Why did the bids come in over budget?

  • Escalation: re-bid cost estimates included an “escalation contingency” of about 6%. According to our project team, the annualized industry escalation rate in January and February has been closer to 8%. Complexity:  Our project is a complex renovation that will create cohesion in a building complex that was built in 11 phases over almost 50 years. When we set the budget in June 2018, the design and drawings were 20% complete.  As we progressed through Schematic Design, Design Development, and Construction Documents stages, we learned more about existing conditions and about the work needed to achieve our community’s goals.  We received three independent cost estimates at the end of each phase:
    • Before the bond vote in December 2018, the SBC reduced the scope of the project by about $10M.  As the project went on, we had three more rounds of cost estimates and two more rounds of value engineering, which further reduced the scope of the project by about $4M.  The last VE exercise before the project went out to bid in December cut $1.5M to keep the project on budget. As we went through those exercises, the SBC felt confident about how the building would look and perform for the next 30-plus years. Unlike the VE reductions in other phases, the size of this most recent estimate and budget gap left the SBC with little discretion about what to remove. We were forced to make cuts that impact our project values.
    • There are many new construction projects out there (schools, commercial buildings, and housing) which are more predictable and straightforward.  Contractors have their choice of work, and new construction is more attractive.
  • Lower Bid Response:  This renovation complexity contributed to a lower-than-hoped-for bid response.  While the SBC pre-approved 109 sub-trade contractors, just over half chose to submit bids.
    • Didn’t we know all of that before we went out to bid? We built in contingency and escalation factors that were slightly higher than industry norms, but as our construction manager Consigli noted, you don’t really know what the cost will be until “the market speaks to you.” The cost and complexity of renovating an existing building to meet our education and net zero goals, while competing with new construction projects in nearby towns, has proven to be more expensive than expected.

What about going forward? What are the cost controls?

  • Guaranteed Maximum Price:  After March 28, when we have the final word from the community about what will be included in the project, the guaranteed maximum price (GMP) will be set.  This price covers all the work that is in the bid documents and there is shared responsibility between the contractor (Consigli) and the owner (Town of Lincoln) to meet that price.
  • Contingencies: A construction contingency of 2.5% is carried by Consigli and 5% is carried by the Town.  These contingencies are meant to conservatively account for the kinds of routine events that can occur in a project (for example, if drawings need slight modification to respond to an existing condition, or if additional work is needed to implement the modification).  
  • What is or is not covered, and who is responsible? (some examples)
    • If a subcontractor makes a mistake, the cost of fixing the mistake is borne by Consigli (for example, the workmanship is not of the quality specified, or if materials are damaged).
    • If the Town wants changes to the project after the GMP is set, it comes out of our contingency (for example, if we choose a different material for the floors, or if we require additional outlets in a classroom).
    • If there is a high-impact unforeseen situation that is outside the realm of the contingency (for example, if as we excavate, we discover dinosaur bones, uranium, or oil), then we either need to value engineer more items out of the project to stay on budget or explore our options with the Town.
  • Are we confident that there is enough contingency built into the project? Yes. The SBC has asked this question many times and in as many ways it can think of, and the project team says that we have built in enough contingency.

What is on the warrant?

  • About $2M of priority items related to the educational program, quality of the interior and exterior environment, community use of the building and the campus, and the long-term value of our investment. The SBC and the Finance Committee are discussing whether this request will come forward as one or more motions.  The SBC will update the community as soon as that information is finalized.
  • Funds from the Cable Revolving Fund to be used for technology upgrades in the Auditorium (note: This is not a new request.  Originally this was on the Annual Town Meeting warrant.  It has been moved to the STM to keep all project-related items together.)

A look forward…and a look back…

From Superintendent McFall: What to expect September 19 – October 10:

Modular Trailer/Temporary School Update

  • The modular classrooms (trailers) that are currently located on the Lincoln campus will begin to be set into place this week to form the temporary school in the configuration that will be used to operate the K-4 school for the 2020 – 2022 school years.
  • There will be 3 additional overnight moves to transport the remaining trailers from Hanscom Air Force Base to the Lincoln campus. These overnight moves will take place on September 24, 25, and 26.
  • As the trailers arrive on site, they will be set in place and anchored to their foundation. Additional work will be carried out to connect utilities and create a temporary parking lot. This initial phase of setting the trailers is expected to be completed by October 10. Additional work on the site and interior of the temporary building will continue through December.

A Brief History of the Project...

From time to time, questions come up about where we are in the process, how much has been decided, or what the decision process has been. The links below follow the journey of the Lincoln School project:

  • 1994 – 2017: Studies that led to the project.
  • March 2017: Town votes to authorize the School Committee to use $750K for the first phase of the current project and to appoint a School Building Committee. Start of Concept Phase.
  • Summer 2017 – June 2018: Concept Phase. The design team & SBC develop a range of project choices that achieve different levels of renovation at a range of costs.
  • June 9, 2018: Special Town Meeting. Residents are given the opportunity to choose between 5 project concepts. After 2 rounds of voting, concept “L3” (a $93.9M major renovation) gets 73% of the vote. L3 is a 75% renovation/25% new construction concept that retains the “L-shape” of the current school, reconfigures/provides new spaces to support the educational program, and determines that the school will be net zero.
  • June 2018 – December 2018: Schematic Design Phase. The L3 concept is developed further in preparation for a December Special Town Meeting to bond the project. The phase ends with cost estimates before the bond vote; SBC goes through a value engineering process to make decisions that keep the project on budget.
  • December 2018: December 1st Special Town Meeting and December 3rd Special Election to bond the project.
  • December 2018 – April 2019: Design Development Phase. Continued work on interior and exterior design and materials, major systems, etc. The phase ends with cost estimates; no value engineering needed.
  • April 2019 – September 2019: 60% Construction Documents Phase. Materials, plumbing and electrical plans, mechanical systems, site work, and phasing plans are refined; design/construction team works with Lincoln Planning Board, Conservation Commission, Historical Commission, and Building Department on required permits. Phase ends with cost estimates; SBC goes through a value engineering process to make decision that keep the project on budget.
  • NOW: September 2019 – December 2019: 90% Construction Documents Phase. Continued refinement of plans and drawings in preparation for sending the project out to bid. Final round of cost estimates will be performed before the bid documents are finalized.
  • SUMMER 2020: Phase 1 begins – renovation of the Middle School (Brooks). Grades K-4 move into the temporary school; grades 5-8 move into the elementary end of the school (Smith)

Next SBC Meeting: Wednesday, September 25th, 7pm, Hartwell multipurpose room.

  • Review refinements of interior design
  • Review exteriors of Brooks & Reed Gym
  • Review plan for salvaged items
  • Monthly budget update
  • Construction update

Making Progress…

The Design Development phase is defined by a continuous series of design refinements, feedback, and decisions. At Wednesday’s SBC meeting, the committee reviewed a couple of different roofline options for the Learning Commons, and considered several possible design directions for the pathways and courtyards on both the east and west sides of the new main entrance.

Learning Commons: After reviewing both “gable” roof and “hipped” roof schemes, the SBC voted to direct the design team to continue to develop the gable roof option. The image above shows the latest iteration of the Learning Commons and main entrance – the design will continue to evolve.

Site PlanSMMA presented three variations of the pathways and courtyards adjacent to the main entrance/Learning Commons. The image above shows the general design direction chosen by the SBC. It features courtyards that flank the Learning Commons both to the east (front) and west (back) of the building. The courtyard in front is envisioned as a more public community space, while the courtyard in the back is seen as being more student-centered (or “business in the front, party in the back” as someone vividly described it!) This design, too, will continue to be developed and refined over time.

NOTE: The SBC learned that this was the last time we would be  joined by Samantha Farrell, Landscape Designer, SMMA, who will be moving out of Massachusetts. We want to express our gratitude to Ms. Farrell for her work on the project, and extend our best wishes to her as she embarks on her next adventure!

Exterior Building MaterialsSMMA and EwingCole presented a number of images and ideas for the exterior finishes of the building.  It is proposed that the school remain a primarily brick building with accent materials in selected areas of the building. Click here to see the complete slide deck from the meeting.

Working Group UpdatesThere are several working groups that are addressing specific aspects of the project. This work will then be reviewed and approved by the full SBC.

  • Education Working Group: This is comprised of members of the school’s administrative team and the design team. In December, SMMA met with teams of teachers to discuss specific and detailed needs. This information informs the development of the school’s interior spaces.
  • Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) Working Group: This group includes committee and community members who have an interest and/or experience in solar energy contracts. The group is working with a solar energy consultant to understand how best to structure an a PPA that meets our energy generation needs and is economically advantageous. The PPA Group is meeting weekly on Wednesday mornings at 8am in the Hartwell multipurpose room.
  • Sustainability Working Group: This group has multiple tasks: 1) Finalize the draft of the “Owners Project Requirements” (OPR) document that outlines the Town’s goals for the project – energy performance, indoor environment quality, water use and stormwater treatment, etc.; 2) Review and recommend to the SBC specific mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems; 3) Interview and recommend to the SBC a “Commissioning Agent” who will be responsible for ensuring that the design and construction are meeting the goals of the OPR.

Upcoming Meetings:

  • PPA Meeting – Wednesday, January 16th, 8:00am, Hartwell multipurpose room.
  • SBC Meeting – Wednesday, January 23rd, 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room.
  • Sustainability Meeting – Friday, February 1st, 8:00am, Hartwell multipurpose room. This meeting will bring together the design team, relevant town boards, and representatives from Eversource. The goal is to provide an overview of all the components that come under the “sustainability” umbrella, review who is responsible for each piece of the puzzle, and to identify any additional questions or tasks that may need to be addressed.

Meeting Reminder

The SBC’s first meeting of 2019 is tomorrow night (Wednesday, January 9th) at 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room. It is a full agenda!

As a reminder, SBC agendas can always be found by using the link on the left hand side of the www.lincolnsbc.org home page (scroll down a bit), or by going to the School Committee section of the Lincoln Public Schools’ website.

Rule #10…Revisited…

“It never gets easier, you just go faster.”  

– attributed to Greg LeMond, Rule #10, http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/

You may remember this cycling quote from our blog post after June 9th…It is equally appropriate now! Given all that will get accomplished between now and the end of April, it is the perfect message to get the SBC and design teams through the work ahead! So, once again, grab a power bar, fill your water bottle, and get ready to shift gears – here we go!

Welcome Consigli!

Consigli was chosen as the project’s construction team.  Since we are using a “Construction Manager at Risk” model, Consigli is now on board and part of this new phase, and they will see the project through to completion. Dave Curry, Director of Pre Construction and Estimating, and Christian Riordan, Project Executive, joined the SBC at its meeting last week. Visit the Project Team page to meet all of our design, OPM, and SBC members.

What’s Ahead?

We are now embarking on an intensive Design Development (DD) process that will take us through April 2019. The full schedule of meetings is posted on the www.lincolnsbc.org home page.

The DD phase develops and finalizes the key architectural and engineering components.

  • At the end of DD there is another round of cost estimates to ensure the project is on budget.
  • At the end of April, the Construction Documents phase will begin. 

Working with Town Boards:

  • The SBC and design team will work through a set of permitting requirements in conjunction with several town boards:
    • Conservation Commission
    • Historical Commission
    • Planning Board
  • Power Purchase Agreement Working Group:  The School Committee will appoint a working group, which will include representation from the Green Energy Committee and the Finance Committee, to develop the PPA. This work will be in collaboration with the SBC and design/construction team.

In addition, there will be an Educational Leadership working group, comprised of school leaders, that will work with the design team throughout the DD process. Also, as they did at the start of the feasibility study process, SMMA will meet with mulitple faculty groups at the start of the DD phase.

Finally, there will be a Logistics Working Group, comprised of representatives from SMMA, Daedalus, Consigli, and school and SBC leadership. This group will meet regularly throughout DD.


How can community members stay up to date?

Here is a “level of interest” guide to get you through the next several months:

“Big milestones…”

  • Update at Annual Town Meeting, Saturday, March 23, 2019.
  • April 24, 2019 SBC Meeting: Final cost estimate before Construction Documents phase begins.

” I want to keep track of the details…”

“I want to be fully involved…”

  • Please come to SBC meetings!
  • This is an intense, complex, iterative process, and each meeting will advance us further.
  • Watch the meetings on the town video website.

Do you have ideas for the website?

The website has been changed around a bit to reflect this new phase. Do you have suggestions to make it easier to navigate? Contact the Outreach Team at sbc@lincnet.org!

Thank you…

…to the almost 1000 fellow citizens who came to Town Meeting.

…to the over 1600 voters who voted at the ballot box.

…to the many people who regularly attended and participated in SBC meetings.

…to everyone who participated in outreach sessions, sent us questions, or came to community forums.

…to our design and Owner’s Project Manager teams.

…to other Lincoln boards and committees that spent time analyzing and shaping the project, and then preparing the town to understand its ramifications.

…to the School’s and Town’s professional teams that supported the SBC’s work in innumerable ways.

…to all those who asked hard questions, and those that helped articulate answers.

…to the fleet of people who took care of all the December 1st and December 3rd logistics: Our public safety officers, our custodial teams, our technology teams, our administrative support teams.

…to those who provided sustenance, and those who tended children, at Town Meeting.

…to the people who talked about the project with neighbors, friends, and new acquaintances.

This has been an intense period of community focus and engagement, and it really does “take a village.”

And now a new type of work begins… 

  • SBC Meeting, Wednesday, December 5th, 7:00pm, Hartwell Multipurpose Room
  • The Design Development phase begins, and will last about 4 months.
  • After Wednesday’s meeting, the SBC will publish a schedule of what to expect in the coming months.
  • SBC meetings remain open to the public.

Thank you!

…to everyone who spent their Saturday morning at the Special Town Meeting!

Vote Tally – Special Town Meeting

The project achieved the 2/3 majority vote needed at Town Meeting.

The BALLOT VOTE is THIS MONDAY, DECEMBER 3rd, 7:30am – 8:00pm, Smith Gym!

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