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:
- Defer vs. Replace: If we defer replacing the Reed Gym roof (which is about 9 years old), will that existing roof support the planned solar equipment? And is the existing roof currently insulated well enough to meet our overall energy goals
- Temporary Modular Classroom Units – Unlike all of our neighboring towns, we don’t have several different school & municipal buildings to accommodate temporary arrangements. We need approximately 30 classrooms for students during the two construction phases, and those units must meet all current code and safety requirements (ADA access, sprinkler systems, etc.)
- Site Work: Some site costs are driven by the constraints of our situation, such as the need to restore playing fields after housing modular classrooms for three years. Other items are savings vs. value decisions that we need to figure out. Do we want less expensive “cape cod berms”, asphalt-formed curbs that wear out over time? Or, do we prefer more expensive granite curbs that last virtually forever after many, many snow plow scrapes?
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:
- Alternative Funding Possibilities: The Town is researching a number sources of funding that could help with pieces of the project such as Community Preservation Act funds for outdoor recreational facilities, Chapter 90 state roadway funds, “Complete Streets” state grants, and the Cable TV Revolving Fund.
- Sustainability: The Town is assisting with analysis of our photovoltaic panel options, and engaged a solar consultant who is doing an analysis of our purchasing and leasing options. It has also enlisted our state legislators to assist with research. Finally, there is a town by-law that was put in place that limits 3rd party power purchasing agreements (PPAs). The Planning Board is working on drafting an amendment that would allow municipal PPAs.
- Financial Planning: The Town’s Finance Committee and Financial Director have been working to ensure we are ready to go to the bond market. Over the past decade, the Town worked to achieve and maintain a AAA rating.