Click the image to play the video (and turn on the volume!)
And if you weren’t able to make it to Town Meeting on Saturday, and want to watch the presentations or hear the questions, you can watch it here!
Over the past 19 months, the Lincoln School project has been forged by the willingness of residents with a wide range of values, priorities, expertise, opinions, and viewpoints to come together to try to collaboratively solve an incredibly complex problem. The goal of the SBC has been to create a process and a platform for individual ideas to be heard and to give direction to its work. In June, we presented 5 viable ways to move forward, and our community made a group decision, in an unprecedented way, about which project best balanced those priorities and delivered the most value for the investment.
At the end of that Special Town Meeting, an overwhelming majority chose the project known as “L3.” The clarity of the vote was due to the fact that many people, with many ideas, were willing to passionately champion their values while demonstrating their willingness to compromise; finding a balance among multiple needs and interests.
The result is a project that is a reflection of resident values; it is “ours,” as a town, in every sense of the word.
What did it take to get to this point?
When we started this process, many challenged us to go beyond a school that is “safe, warm, and dry” and to focus on transforming the educational environment. They noted that the neighborhood model of classrooms, which supports how our educators teach (with future flexibility), would be easiest to achieve in a new, more compact building – not one with classrooms strung out along a long corridor.
Many residents focused on the opportunity to live up to the green energy goals LIncoln set for itself a decade ago, when the town voted to adopt a fossil fuel reduction standard for its public buildings. They focused our attention on “energy use intensity,” the importance of a well-insulated building, new heating & cooling technologies, and the need to generate electricity on site in order to further reduce our carbon footprint. This would be easiest to achieve with new construction.
Others drew our attention to the deep historical ties the town has to the Ballfield Road site. It was the home of the Lincoln Mohawks baseball team in the first half of the 20th century, and where the town regularly gathered in the grand stands. The Lincoln School itself was designed by two Lincoln-resident modern architects, Lawrence Anderson and Henry Hoover. They helped transform school architecture by providing ample access to natural light, connections to the outdoors, and moveable (dare we say flexible?) furniture that wasn’t bolted to the floor. Many residents saw the important connection of the current building to our town’s history, and wanted to ensure that we re-used as much of it as possible and preserved the integrity of the campus.
The Lincoln School is an important center of the community, and many emphasized its role in our recreational and civic life. They placed a high value on retaining both of our full-sized gyms and the Auditorium.
And everyone wanted to ensure that the project would provide good long-term value for the up-front cost – while being mindful of the immediate impact on the community.
As is quickly apparent, it is not easy to reconcile all of these priorities – but there was a lot of determination! As a result of the creativity of our design team and our committee, and a high level of community participation in the process, we all decided that L3 did the best job of drawing all of those interests together.
On Saturday, we will come together to test that hypothesis.
We know that people will come to the meeting looking at the project through different lenses and their own set of experiences. While we all listen to the presentations and the ensuing debate, the following questions might serve as a framework:
Each of us may answer these questions in different ways. We look forward to a thoughtful and thought-provoking conversation on Saturday.
…way back in March of 2017 when we were young, carefree, and just starting this process?
Sometimes, unless you are in the Lincoln School every day, it is easy to forget some of the basic reasons we are deciding, THIS SATURDAY, on a school project.
In March 2017, Town Meeting voted unanimously to release $750K that had been previously set aside for a school study, and to start again on developing a Lincoln School project. That vote indicated agreement that the condition of the school needed to be addressed. What do those basic infrastructure needs look like?
To see some images, click here. Also, click on the image below to see a short video taken a couple of weeks ago in our elementary Wellness (aka Physical Education) teachers’ office.
Does that mean we’re not keeping up with maintenance?
No. Each year we have voted as a town to fund a maintenance budget for the Lincoln Schools of about $75,000. The town has a creative and skilled facilities maintenance team that gets the most out of that money by finding parts for obsolete equipment on eBay, making parts, and an endless array of other inventive solutions. About six years ago, for example, they re-sealed the seams on the roof to try to eke out a few more years before a project. It is worth noting that when we were working with the MSBA, which takes a dim view of towns that purposely avoid routine care, they complimented our facilities team on what they were accomplishing through basic maintenance.
Why can’t we just do this in stages?
The cost of replacing major systems means that they must be done as a capital project because they are outside the price range of the operating budget. Each year, the Capital Planning Committee gathers all the capital requests from each town agency, and works collaboratively to prioritize and do long-range planning. When the school department approached CapCom in 2002, the magnitude of the building’s needs led everyone to agree that it would be wise to do a more comprehensive study of the buildings on campus. Since 2003, multiple town committees and six independent consultants have come to the conclusion that a single project is 1) most cost effective; and 2) least disruptive to our children’s education.
On June 9th, the Town considered a $49M option that would have addressed the building’s basic needs. In the first round of voting, almost 96% of those at Town Meeting rejected that solution and chose one of the other project concepts that went beyond repair and addressed additional needs.
Over these final few days before Saturday’s vote, we will try to condense and revisit information that has been shared over the past months. If you have questions, please write a comment or contact the SBC.
-The Outreach Team
Just for Fun: What is “Budget Falls”?
The Outreach Team wishes everyone a turkey-and-pie-filled, enjoyable few days!
We will be on hiatus for just a bit…and then you’ll be hearing from us quite frequently in the final days before the Special Town Meeting which is a week from Saturday!
A few links in case you’re trying to avoid doing the dishes:
Lincoln School Project Overview (this should have arrived in the mail along with the official Town Meeting warrant notice and a glossary of Finance Committee terms.
Click here to visit the Town’s page dedicated to the December 1st Special Town Meeting. Lot’s of information!
~~ TONIGHT! Multi-Board Meeting ~~
7:00pm – 9:00pm Hartwell Pod B
The School Building Committee, Finance Committee, Capital Planning Committee, and Green Energy Committee will present updated information in preparation for December 1st.
The public is welcome and encouraged to come ask questions!
FAQ: Are there any ways to mitigate the impact of the property tax increase?
The Town of Lincoln offers all of the tax deferral and abatement programs authorized by the state. Below is a chart of the available programs. For more information about property taxes, please visit the Assessor’s web page on the Town website.
See the Latest!
After getting strong guidance from the community that it preferred a “sloped roof” approach to the new center of the building, our design team incorporated the feedback people gave and created updated drawings of the exterior. Take a look!
What is the funding plan?
The Lincoln Finance Committee met on Monday, November 5th and voted unanimously to recommend the following plan for funding the $93.9M Lincoln School project:
This is the funding mix the Town will vote on.
The Finance Committee also voted unanimously to release the following statement:
“On June 9th the town decisively supported a school project that embodied educational values and sustainability through a renovated school project. We believe:
and thus FinCom supports this project.”
How will this impact our property taxes?
What are the updates to the building plans?
At the November 1st workshops and through subsequent outreach, the community was asked to weigh in on “flat roofs” vs “sloped roofs” for the center section of the building. Thank you to everyone who offered their opinion!
The feedback from those who weighed in showed a strong preference for sloped roofs (~80% vs 20%). At Wednesday’s meeting, the SBC considered both options, and voted to direct the design team to further refine the sloped roof design. If the project is approved, there will be further work to determine optimal design details.
What are your voting plans?
Saturday, December 1st: Special Town Meeting, 9:00am
Monday, December 3rd: Ballot Vote, 7:30am – 8:00pm
Cost FAQs: There are a number of interrelated questions that come up about the cost of the project and how we expect to stay on budget. Some variations include: Why is the budget $93.9M? Why didn’t we choose a budget and then do as much as we could for it? Home renovation projects always cost more than expected – will that happen to the school project?
Budget: Since we started talking about a school project a decade ago, there have been questions about why we started with a range of budget choices instead of one budget amount.
Cost Containment: What keeps this budget from going over $93.9M? There are several factors:
State of the Town Update
At Saturday’s State of the Town, the SBC gave an update on the Lincoln School project’s progress since June. Here are the highlights (see the slides, including information from the Finance Committee, here):
Next SBC Meeting: Wednesday, October 24th, 7pm, Hartwell
Cost Estimate Overview
On September 26th, the SBC received the draft preliminary cost estimates from two independent estimators: The two total project cost estimates came in at $102M and $109M, well above our target budget of $93.9M. After that meeting, the estimators, our design team, and our Owner’s Project Manager met to reconcile the two draft estimates to ensure they were comparing the same scope, materials, and quantities. This past Wednesday, the SBC presentation outlined the reconciled, detailed cost estimates: one went up and one came down, and each estimate is currently about $104M. This is better, but we still have our work “cut out” to remove, scale back and/or trade off items to fit within our budget.
The chart below shows the total project budget broken down into 7 broad categories. As you can see, the building renovation/additions costs came in as expected. There were two big categories that account for most of the delta between the current cost estimates and the conceptual cost estimates we saw in June: Site work and temporary classrooms.
In that same meeting, our project team presented a list of possible items (link here) that could be eliminated or scaled back. While the SBC made some progress removing items, the real work (and dollars) requires understanding tradeoffs that can’t be resolved in just one night, and understanding how eliminating up-front cost impacts long-term value. Here are some examples:
All Hands on Deck!
Residents should know that it is not just the SBC that is engaged in the Lincoln School project. The Schools and the Town are in continuous communication, and the Town administration is supporting the project in a number of ways. At the October 3rd meeting, Tim Higgins, Town Administrator, assured the SBC that the Schools and the Town are each doing their part, and gave an overview of how the Town has been planning for this project: