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Tag: Educational Vision

What’s new?

As Phase 2 of the Lincoln School project takes shape, let’s take a look at some of the new features of the Primary School:

  • Preschool is moving out of the Hartwell building and into the school! For the first time, all of our grades, preK – 8, will be together under one roof. This will give our youngest students access to the gym, music, and art rooms, and will make it much easier to deliver services such as occupational and physical therapy. It will also facilitate the transition to Kindergarten.
  • The new Media Center (all-new construction) is on the east side of the building.
  • The new Learning Commons will be a flexible space for school and community events. It can be set up for presentations, robotics competitions, art shows, science fairs, music performances, school dances – whatever we can imagine! The Learning Commons and adjacent Dining Commons will both have access to a large courtyard space in the inner part of the “L” (about where the “Learning Commons” label is below)
  • The principals’ offices will be centrally located by the new main entrance (larger pink area in the image below).
  • The 3rd grade wing is all-new construction and will be the youngest grade to feature a hub space.

A reminder of which parts of the building are being renovated and which parts are all-new construction:

New construction vs Renovation

Click here to see the new May photo gallery and here to see the slide deck from last Wednesday’s School Building Committee meeting.

According to our students…

Thank you to Mathias, Nina, Camille, Lucy, Eliana, Cadence, Montana, and Samantha for sharing their observations about the renovated Middle School!

The School Building Committee met last Wednesday. Click here to see the slides from the meeting.

Join us at the State of the Town Meeting on Monday, November 1st to get an update on the project!

Register at

At Every Step…

…We are reminded that the school project is a complicated renovation. Along the way, lessons have been learned and are being applied to the second phase of construction. Here is one highly visible example:

When the Middle School was renovated, the existing exterior walls were preserved in many places. Because we are super-insulating the school, it was crucial to carefully apply a vapor barrier on the entire exterior of the building (a.k.a. building envelope). The project team quickly realized that the condition of the existing walls did not provide the high-quality surface needed for the vapor barrier to work properly. After several solutions were explored, the construction team decided to “parge” the exterior of the Middle School. Essentially, a skim coat was applied to the entire building envelope to create a smooth surface. This work required a lot of time and a significant dip into the project’s contingency funds.

That is why the exterior of the Primary School was demolished. New walls will be built incorporating the insulation and vapor barrier required to meet our sustainability goals. This meant using some contingency funds up front for the increase in demolition. The result will provide long-term value to the project.

What will it look like in a year? Looking at the shell and gaping holes in the building, it is hard to remember what it will look like when it is complete in the Fall of 2022.

  • The empty space where the original building was demolished will make way for the new main entrance, the Learning Commons, a new 3rd-grade classroom neighborhood, the central Administrative suite, and a new Media Center.
  • The remaining buildings will be renovated to hold grades preK-2.
Rendering of Learning Commons and Entrance
Outside Administrative Suite, looking into K-4 Science Room

More Information!

  • Click here to see demolition videos.
  • Click here to see the slide deck from the 9/13 SBC meeting.
  • Click here to see the September photo gallery.

School Tour!

Get ready for photos! On August 12th, SBC members were treated to a tour of the renovated Middle School. Building inspections were completed earlier in the week and faculty will be able to move into their classrooms starting on Monday, August 16th. The map below shows the tour route, and there are photos below that correspond to the numbered circles. More photos can be found in the August gallery. Slide deck from the August 11th SBC meeting can be found here.

SBC Tour Route on 8/12/21

Stop #1: Dining Commons

Stop #2: Kitchen

Stop #3: 5th Grade Hub Space

Stop #4: 7th Grade Neighborhood

Stop #5: 6th Grade Neighborhood

Stop #6: Auditorium

Stop #7: Connection between Auditorium and Reed Gym

Stop #8: Reed Gym

Thank you!

renewing of new Lincoln Commons Playground

Our thanks to everyone who came to Town Meeting! Residents overwhelmingly approved funds for new furniture and technology (FF&E) and the use of Community Preservation Act funds to build the new preK and Lincoln School Commons playgrounds as originally designed. These investments will have a very positive impact on our students and the wider community.

Next SBC meeting is on Wednesday, June 16th.

How it’s going…where it will end!

Phase 1 of the Lincoln School renovation is getting to the point where we can really envision the results! Below are comparisons that show current construction photos of the Dining Commons, new Reed connector, and the Auditorium versus renderings of the finished products. 

The SBC met last Wednesday, click here to see the project update slides.

Dining Commons, facing east
Connection between Reed Gym and Auditorium

Town Meeting is on Saturday, May 15th @9:30am under the tent in the Hartwell parking lot.  The SBC will give a project update and answer questions at a virtual public forum on Wednesday, May 12th @ 6:30pm (prior to the regular SBC meeting at 7:00pm).  Register for the public forum here:  

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

The Library Begins to Transform…

…into our new Dining Commons! One big change coming to the school is that it will have a full kitchen and a dedicated Dining Commons. How will this impact the school?

  • Gyms will be available for classes all day — no more converting them into lunch areas for half the day; provides more scheduling flexibility for wellness classes and for indoor recreation when the weather is bad
  • Students will now eat in a centrally-located, light-filled space that looks out onto the center field!
  • A full kitchen allows a wider range of food preparation
  • Dishwashing facilities eliminate disposable styrofoam trays, dishes & cutlery
  • Kitchen and Dining Commons become new community assets during non-school hours

Here’s a comparison of the floor plans before and after renovation:

Current “Link” includes the Library, computer labs, Elementary Art, Science & Music, Nurse, and classrooms.

After the renovation, the Link will house the Dining Commons, kitchen, Nurse, classrooms & hubs, Special Education offices.

When it’s complete…

But to get there, first we have to…(click here for latest construction photos)

SBC Meets (Virtually) this Week – Wednesday, July 15, 2020 @ 7:00pm

The agenda and link will be posted on Monday.

This Time Was Different…

Over the past 18 months, the SBC has gone through several rounds of lengthy and difficult decision-making to cut costs and keep the project on budget. At each step we used our core project values to make tough choices, and through the 90% construction document phase, we were able to make cuts without impinging on those values too much.

The last round was different.

In December, the project went out to bid and the marketplace got to have its say. Now we saw the impact of a combining a complex, phased renovation with a hot construction market and changing trade policy. The bids came in $3.5M over budget. So…we rolled up our sleeves once again – February was rough! Cutting $3.5 million out of the project meant that the SBC, for the first time, needed to eliminate parts of the project that we had tried really hard to protect. Parts of the project that represent our collective community values.  Values identified after years of community conversation and collaboration.

As a result, we are asking residents to approve using $829K from Free Cash to restore 8 items (below).

To quote Chris Fasciano, SBC Chair, “…the SBC is acutely aware of the pressure of the current [COVID and financial] situation and we have given this request a lot of thought. In the end, we feel the responsibility of delivering a school project that has the most long-term value for our investment. We don’t want to look back in five years and regret that we didn’t present the community with a choice about whether or not to include these pieces of the project.”

Want to learn more? Have questions?

  • Watch the 1st SBC Public Forum here.
  • Fill out this questionnaire (the link to the video is also imbedded) and ask questions.
  • Register to attend the SBC Public Forum on Monday, June 8th @8:00pm

Just for fun…What does the school look like from up in the air? (scroll down to find the answer!)

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.)

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