Educational Value(s)…and Some Financial FAQs…

District Strategic Plan

Each year, with input from the community, the Lincoln School Committee and Administrative Team set strategic priorities for the district. These priorities guide professional development and collaboration in the Lincoln School and in the Hanscom Schools. Since the new Hanscom Middle School opened in 2016, the district has had the opportunity to see how a school designed around grade-level neighborhoods and flexible common spaces can support our educational priorities, and how it makes it easier for our teachers to engage in the kinds of collaborations that spark creative and engaging curriculum.

Our teachers are our best educational resource. The building and environment can make their work easier or harder. Below are some resources to learn more about the impact of the learning environment:

  • Want to read about some of the values articulated by our faculty? Visit our October 15, 2017 post, How Spaces Impact Learning.
  • The Industrial Age gave us the assembly line. It also instilled the philosophy that education — and the school buildings where learning happens — needed to mimic that style of design, with facilities built around long corridors that file students into boxlike classrooms filled with rows of desks…But in the 21st century, education is moving away from the assembly-line mentality, encouraging students to collaborate, work hands-on, explore their environment, and continually engage with fresh ideas.” —Excerpted from How Architecture Boosts 21st Century Learning published by the site “The T74,” a non-partisan, non-profit site covering education in America.
  • For more about hubs, revisit our June 3rd post, FAQs: Hubs & Code Compliance.
  • Visit the “Impact on Education” page of the SBC website to learn more, watch videos, etc.

Some Financial FAQs (with assistance from the Finance Committee & Town Finance Team)

I’ve seen that taxes would go up 17% – 19%. Would they keep going up by that much every year?
No. Paying for the bond is like making payments on a fixed rate, 30-year mortgage. The cost for the bond remains constant once it is fully added to the tax bill. However, unlike taking out a mortgage, the Town is likely to issue the bond in two “tranches” or pieces, that will mean the increase in taxes will likely be phased in over 3 years.

When would the project show up on my tax bill?
Based on the currently anticipated borrowing schedule, the first impact would occur in the tax bill for the second half of calendar year 2019.

Will it happen all at once?
No. Based on the currently anticipated borrowing schedule, about 45% of the total increase would appear on the tax bill for the 2nd half of calendar year 2019. That same amount would be included in both semi-annual tax bills of calendar year 2020, bringing that year’s added payments to 90% of the total increase. The two semi-annual added payments in calendar year 2021 would be slightly higher and add up to 95% of the total increase, and then the tax bills from calendar year 2022 onwards would have the full increase included. In other words, it will take about 3 years until we are paying the full “mortgage payment” on the school.

SOTT Recap

Now that we are in the home stretch, you will be hearing from the Outreach Team a bit more frequently – we thank you for understanding!

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):

  • The SBC has focused on 6 major components of the project:
    • Classroom neighborhoods centered on “hub” spaces for grades 3 – 8.
    • The central “heart” of the school: flexible learning commons, media center (library), central dining commons, kitchen, and a central entrance.
    • Sustainability and systems: energy generation (photovoltaic panels), heating/cooling, insulation, safety & security, electrical, and plumbing systems.
    • Exterior architecture.
    • Site plans: roads, walking and bike paths, and recreational spaces.
    • Phasing: where do students go during renovation?
  • Cost: For the past 3 weeks, the SBC has concentrated on a “value-engineering” process to keep the project on budget. What does that mean? Where are we now?
    • June 9th: The budget we chose as a Town was $93.9M.
    • September 26th: The SBC got estimates from 2 independent cost estimators. The draft estimates were $102M and $109M.
    • September 28th: The two estimators reconciled their estimates to $104M.
    • October 3rd: SBC’s task? Reduce the project by $10M!
      • SMMA presented about 100 items to consider cutting or reducing.
    • October 3rd – October 17th: The SBC closed the gap and brought the project back to budget! How? Most of the gap was closed by scaling back site work, negotiating for a better price on temporary classrooms, and choosing to pursue a Power Purchase Agreement to install photovoltaic panels instead of incurring this as a capital cost. NOTE: Value-engineering is not just about cutting cost, but about making trade-offs that maintain the long-term value of the project. For example, the SBC chose to add in a better heating/cooling system and accepted a small budget increase to enable us to move forward with the tweak to the design that provided a better floor plan for the central part of the school.

Next SBC Meeting: Wednesday, October 24th, 7pm, Hartwell


We wait…

…with bated breath…On Thursday, the schematic design for the Lincoln School project was sent out for cost estimation (here are the slides from the September 12th meeting which give an overview of the elements of the project). In keeping with best practices, the design will be evaluated by two different groups of estimators. The work will take about 2 weeks and we will review the preliminary estimates at the September 26th SBC meeting. Thus begins a two-part process. First, the two groups of estimators will meet to reconcile the two estimates. Second, the design team (SMMA) and our Owners Project Manager (Daedalus) will develop a list of items for the SBC to consider in the value engineering process.

As anyone who has done a remodel project knows, there’s a chance that these first estimates may come in at, below, or above the $93.9M cost estimate that was voted on in June. That’s a normal (if nervewracking) part of the process! The SBC then moves on to the next phase during which it evaluates costs and possible trade-offs among design, functionality, and features to stay within our goals and budget. These could be tough conversations, ones which require each of us to continue to compromise in order to achieve our big goal: a transformational renovation project that will provide spaces that support our educational vision in a safe, comfortable building that maximizes sustainability and honors the history of the site.

To read more about the schematic design process and value engineering, take a look at our June 6th blog post.

Upcoming SBC Schedule: 

  • September 26th SBC Meeting: Review preliminary cost estimates.  After this, the estimators meet to reconcile the two estimates, and SMMA and Daedalus develop lists of items to be considered in the value-engineering process.
  • October 3rd SBC Meeting: Review reconciled cost estimates; SBC begins the value-engineering process.
  • Further schedule TBD – We may elect to keep to our weekly schedule!

Thank you! To everyone who engaged with the SBC at the Back to School picnic, during the Brooks curriculum night, and at the outreach session hosted by the Council on Aging!

9/12 iteration of the Dining Commons

Getting Caught Up

On Wednesday the School Building Committee hosted two Community Workshop sessions. There was a great cross-section of the community represented both in the morning and in the evening, and we thank everyone for making time during what is always a hectic week!

The presentation focused on six main areas of the project: the floor plan (where are all the rooms?); the new flexible hub spaces in grades 3 – 8; the central entrance & Commons; the site (how do we make cars, cyclists and walkers all happy?!); sustainability; and phasing (where does everyone go while we’re renovating?) Click here to see the slides from the presentation. Video of the Workshop is available at

At the next SBC meeting on September 12th, the committee will sign off on the schematic design and send the plans to the cost estimators. This does not mean that all the design work is done – the details are fleshed out during the design development phase (which comes after the December bond vote) – but this current phase establishes the major design and construction components of the project.

Outreach Events: Couldn’t make it to the workshops? Take the opportunity to talk directly to SBC members at these two upcoming events:

  • Thursday, September 13th – PTO Welcome Back Picnic, 5:00 – 7:00pm, Codman Pool parking lot.
  • Friday, September 14th – Bemis Hall, 1:00pm


It’s Time to Go Back to School (Building Committee)!

Community Workshops: THIS WEDNESDAY, September 5th – 2 Sessions
• 8:00am – 10:00am
• 7:00pm – 9:00pm
• Both (identical) sessions will be in the Brooks (Reed) Gym

The SBC has been meeting all summer and a lot of work has been done. This is your opportunity to get caught up and ask questions before we send the schematic designs to the cost estimators!

What can you expect? The design team will present all that has been done to advance the “L3” concept we voted for on June 9th. Topics will include:

  • Floor Plans – Where are the grades? How are the hubs and the commons laid out? Where is the new kitchen?
  • Site Plan – Traffic flow, pedestrian paths, bike paths, parking.
  • Sustainability – What needs to be done to try to reach our goal of a net zero building?
  • Phasing – Where will students go during renovation?
  • Next Steps – What is the SBC working on over the next couple of months?

Please consider this a hand-delivered, personal invitation to attend one of the sessions! It takes a Town to make a school project successful, and we hope you will join us to learn more and ask questions.

– The SBC Outreach Team

July 25th: Exterior Elevations and Site Circulation

July 11th Floor Plan Iteration

July 11th Recap: At last week’s meeting, the SBC looked at a new iteration of the floor plan, discussed components of sustainability, and reviewed an updated project schedule. The meetings are now being televised, and you can watch the July 11th meeting here.

The slides from the meeting are posted here.

Up Next: On July 25th, the SBC will focus on two big topics:

  • Building Exterior: SMMA/EwingCole will introduce plans for the building’s exterior. How will the new central entrance/Commons look? What kinds of materials will we use?
  • Site Plan: How will bus and car drop-offs work? Where do pedestrians and cyclists go? What are the opportunities for outdoor learning spaces? Where is the parking?

Sizzling Summer: The rest of the summer is equally fast-paced! Once again there was great public participation on July 11th, and the SBC is grateful that so many people are making SBC meetings a priority. We look forward to seeing you all for the following meetings:

  • August 8th: Focus on mechanical, electrical, plumbing systems, wall and roof systems, and photovoltaic arrays.
  • August 22nd: Community charette to focus on interior spaces and security.
  • September 5th: Finalize floor plans, site plans, systems, sustainability features. Plans must be finalized to begin cost estimation process.
  • The fall schedule (updated as of June 20th) is posted here.

Come Together – Hubs and the Commons

Wow! About 50 people gathered for last Wednesday’s SBC meeting – We were so excited to have this kind of participation, and impressed by everyone’s fortitude in sticking it out until 11:30pm! It was an action-packed evening that included a presentation by students from the Boston Architectural College (BAC), and a “charette” style conversation about the hub spaces and central commons. Here’s a recap:

BAC Presentation: Rashmi Ramaswamy, faculty member, came with three BAC students and presented the work they did with Lincoln School students.  The BAC students held sessions with both elementary and middle school students to teach them about the purpose of architecture, the design process, and elements of design.  Here are the slides from their presentation.  Our thanks to SBC member, Craig Nicholson, middle school Principal, Sharon Hobbs, and middle school Art teacher, Pam DiBiase for making this collaboration happen!

Charette: Hubs and the Commons: After SMMA made a presentation showing different configuration ideas for the hubs and the commons, small groups spent about an hour and a half examining the options, sketching, posing questions, and sharing out their ideas. This feedback will be used by SMMA/EwingCole to further develop the plans, which will be brought back to the SBC on July 25th. (We hope you’ll join us at 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room!)

Site Planning: SMMA reviewed concepts for site circulation.  Figuring out how to safely move cars, delivery trucks, buses, pedestrians, and cyclists around a campus bordered by wetlands is a complex task! The site plan will be the focus of the July 25th charette.

Up Next on July 11th – Building Envelope Charette: At the next SBC meeting, the charette will focus on the components of the building envelope (windows, walls, roof), which is a major component of what will make the building sustainable.  If sustainability is important to you, NOW’s THE TIME TO COME!

Want to be inspired? A community member found this video about the Welkes Elementary School in Bainbridge Island, Washington. Enjoy!

Look! We’re on TV! (or the Web): We will be filming SBC meetings from now on. Last week’s meeting was filmed in two parts:

Join Us! – Focus on Hubs and Commons

Lincoln School Project (June 9, 2018)

Interested in the configuration of Hub Spaces and the Commons? 

Come to the SBC meeting on Wednesday, June 27th! As mentioned in last week’s blog post, over the next few months each meeting will feature a mini “charette” focused on a particular aspect of the design. Unless otherwise noted, all SBC meetings start at 7:00pm, Hartwell multipurpose room.

What is a “charette?” 

  • SBC members and audience members will be put together in groups to focus on and discuss a specific topic (this week – Hubs and the Commons).
  • The design team (SMMA/EwingCole) will guide us through the issues that need to be considered.
  • Groups will ask questions and generate ideas; the SBC will decide which ideas SMMA/EwingCole should incorporate into the next iteration of the design.

This is crucial work, and if these details interest you NOW is the time to be involved! The Schematic Design process will be intense over the summer! By the start of September a final set of Floor Plans, Site Plans, and Elevations will be given to the cost estimators.

Also on June 27th…

  • Review of Site Circulation (traffic flow for cars, buses, bikes, pedestrians)
  • Review of updated Floor Plans

Up Next…

At the July 11th meeting, the charette will focus on building envelope and sustainability. “Building envelope” refers to how the skin of the building is constructed – wall and roof materials, insulation, and windows.

FAQs – Hubs and Code Compliance

Hubs – What are they?

Whether we are in big public forums, people’s living rooms, scanning Lincoln Talk, or standing in line at Donelan’s, one of the recurring conversations is about “hubs” – What are they? How do they change education? Are they a fad? Are they like my 1970’s open classroom? Is the hub model innovative enough?

The SBC revisited this topic at its May 30th meeting, when Philip J. Poinelli, FAIA, ALEP, LEED AP, MCPPO, Principal and Learning Environment Planner for SMMA, focused on these very questions.

What are hubs and how do they change education? As you can see in the image below, these spaces come with a variety of names (breakout spaces, learning commons, etc.). Generally, they are flexible, multi-use spaces that are adjacent to, and shared by multiple classrooms/learning studios. The idea is to transform the physical environment from a factory model (Classes of 18 – 24 students in a series of same-sized boxes along a corridor) to a neighborhood model (multi-sized spaces around a common area shared by a cohort of students and several teachers). This reflects and supports the fundamental shift in education that is already happening. The pace of change and access to information is such that it is difficult to predict the content students will be learning in 50 years, but we do know that they need to be able to think critically and imaginatively, access and evaluate information, and work collaboratively and across disciplines. Our faculty is already engaged in this kind of education.  As School Committee Chair, Tim Christenfeld, noted during the May 30thSBC meeting, “There is an evolution in teaching, but there’s a disconnect between the teaching and the building.”  Buildings have the power to facilitate and accelerate innovation.

Click on the image to see the slides from the May 30th presentation to the SBC

Are hubs a fad? In his presentation, Mr. Poinelli gave several example of school systems that were pioneers in transformational school design, and that seeing their first buildings in action, have committed themselves to this model.

  • The High Tech High School in San Diego was founded in 2000 with one school. It was built around the concept of “project-based learning” – an interdisciplinary, problem-solving approach to education. The model has grown into a network of schools in California including four elementary schools, four middle schools and six high schools.
  • Department of Defense Educational Activity (DoDEA): DoDEA operates 194 schools serving over 86,000 students. Statistically, DoDEA is the 34th largest school district in the nation though its schools are spread out across the US and the world. In 2011, DoDEA developed its framework for school design based on 21st century education principles.  This is very relevant for Lincoln, as the framework was used to design both the Hanscom Middle School (completed in 2016) and the Hanscom Primary School (under construction). Our faculty is already teaching in this kind of facility.
  • Mr. Poinelli noted that a number of districts have multiple schools designed around a hub approach, including Saskatchewan, Canada and Snohomish, WA
  • The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) is now accommodating hub-based designs into the projects they approve. The SBC toured one of these schools, the Gates Middle School, in Scituate. Here is a recent WGBH news item about project based learning at Gates.

    technology bar in a Gates MS hub space

Are they like my 1970’s open classroom? No. Mr. Poinelli said that not all open plan schools had hubs and not all were unsuccessful, but those that failed likely had some of these characteristics:

  • Lack of acoustical isolation – classrooms that were open to each other or separated by poor quality operable partitions. Operable partition technology has improved significantly as has acoustical engineering.
  • HVAC systems within the teaching spaces, which often made distracting noise. Today we can create teaching environments that are very quiet, improving speech intelligibility for the benefit of all students.
  • Lack of visual isolation – the teaching spaces opened to each other with little option to close them off.
  • History tells us that in many communities with open plan schools, there was little teacher professional development conducted in how best to use these new schools. By contrast, the Lincoln Public Schools administration and Hanscom Middle School faculty spent two years planning how to optimize their new environment while they waited for the building to be constructed. The Primary School faculty is now doing the same.
  • Over the past 30 years there has been significant brain research that informs us how we learn and how many of us learn differently from each other. This has had a real impact on how we design learning environments today. Mr. Poinelli commented that “if the educators need to grow into the building, the architects have done their job.”

neighborhood concept

Is the hub model innovative enough? When a group of resident educators presented to the SBC, the question arose whether the hub model was sufficiently forward-thinking. At the current concept-level phase, the project concepts L3 and C show (for grades 3 – 8) grade-level hubs surrounded by similarly sized classrooms.  If one of these concepts is chosen on June 9th, the interior configuration of those grade-level clusters will be developed and refined, and it is possible that they could look more like the neighborhood model in this illustration.  That design work will happen in conjunction with our educators. L3 and C provide enough square footage and heavy renovation/new construction to make those decisions possible.  There is, inherently, more flexibility with the new construction of classroom wings than with the renovation of a cinderblock building.

Another FAQ the SBC often hears is “What is the threshold for code compliance?” After the 1994 school project linked the Smith and Brooks schools, the Lincoln School became a single building. Here is a high-level summary of the structural, accessibility and life-safety codes that will be addressed by all of the concepts under consideration.