School Facility Plan Costs Jump

September 7, 2023
• Rises in construction and material costs cause a major rise in the estimated costs for the Pollard Middle School and Mitchell Elementary School Projects.

At the Needham School Committee on Tuesday, September 5th, the main discussion of the evening centered around the future of the town’s public school buildings. Having developed a Master Plan to guide them through the facility and physical plant needs for the district, the committee revisits and updates it as time, funding, conditions and circumstances change. The projects immediately pending involve the Pollard Middle School, High Rock Sixth Grade and Mitchell Elementary School. In this meeting’s discussion, there were both positive steps forward and potential setbacks involved with the evolving bottom-line.

Click to listen to the entire discussion held at the September 5th meeting. (58 minutes)

According to a memo addressed to the School Committee by the district’s Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Administration, Anne Gulati, the Massachusetts School Building Authority, or MSBA, has scheduled a Senior Study Review of the Pollard project for October 4th.

Back in April, the district submitted applications for funding to renovate and expand the Pollard Middle School as well as to reconstruct the Mitchell Elementary School. While the upcoming Senior Study Review does not guarantee MSBA funding for the Pollard project, Gulati noted in her memo that the MSBA’s decision to investigate the Pollard project represents a positive step forward.

The memo also contains updated cost estimates for all the projects outlined in the School Master Plan, which rose due to multiple factors in addition to inflation and disruptions in the supply chain. Beginning June 21st, the MSBA will impose stricter energy efficiency requirements.

Tracking the different scenarios in play for the projects, the total estimated cost could range as high as $465 million, compared to the initial estimates of around $335-$350 million.

This story ran as part of the Needham Channel News, a weekly newscast airing on The Needham Channel every Thursday at 7:30pm. The Needham Channel News can be found on the Community Channel: Comcast 9, Astound 15 and Verizon 29. Most Thursdays it also can be viewed on our HD Channel on Verizon 2129, Astound 613 and streaming on this site.
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