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Answering questions

Mr. Fregeau's letter, dated March 27 and received on March 30, is addressed to "Gentlemen" and states: "Please provide answers to the following questions on or before the close of business Friday 9 April 2010."
While the Massachusetts Public Records Law states that you may request a copy of a public record, the document "A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law" published by William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth Division of Public Records, (updated March 2009) clearly explains:
"The Public Records Law only applies to records that are in existence and created or maintained in the usual course of business. A records custodian is not required to answer questions or to create a record in response to a request, but may do so at his or her discretion."
Therefore, while the Longmeadow School Building Committee is not required to answer any of the questions posed in your letter, we have chosen to do so in an effort to provide helpful responses to inform decision making and also to correct some inaccurate statements and assumptions.
1. When the High School Building Committee was formed what was its mandate?
The Longmeadow School Building Committee was formed on June 25, 2008 in accordance with 963 CMR 2.00, and was subsequently approved by the MSBA. The entire text of 963 CMR 2.00 is available on the MSBA Web site; however, the following sections define the purpose and composition of the School Building Committee:
School Building Committee.
(a) The Eligible Applicant shall formulate a school building committee for the purpose of generally monitoring the Application process and to advise the Eligible Applicant during the construction of an Approved Project.
(b) The school building committee shall be formed in accordance with the provisions of the Eligible Applicant's local charter and/or by-laws and it is recommended that the city, town, regional school district, or independent agricultural and technical school make a reasonable effort to include one or more of the following individuals: the local chief executive officer of the Eligible Applicant, or, in the case of a town whose local chief executive officer is a multi-party body, said body may elect one of its members to serve on the school building committee; the administrator or manager of a city or a town, where applicable; at least one member of the school committee, as required by M.G.L. c. 71, 68; the superintendent of schools; the local official responsible for building maintenance; a representative of the office or body authorized by law to construct school buildings in that city, town or regional school district, or for that independent agricultural and technical school; the school principal from the subject school; a member who has knowledge of the educational mission and function of the facility; a local budget official or member of the local finance committee; members of the community with architecture, engineering and/or construction experience to provide advice relative to the effect of the Proposed Project on the community and to examine building design and construction in terms of its constructability.
2. Why and by whom were the particular chair persons chosen?
Acknowledging the extraordinary amount of work and responsibility associated with the role of chairperson, the School Building Committee voted for co-chairs who would collaborate in the leadership role. Why and by whom were the other members of the committee chosen?
See CMR 963 for membership requirements (as noted above). The community members were selected through an application process and jointly interviewed and chosen by the Select Board and School Committee.
3. (a) How many members of the committee do not reside in Longmeadow or Massachusetts?
See CMR 963 for membership requirements (as noted above). The requirements for SBC membership do not specify residency; however many of the members are residents.
(b) Are they voting members of the committee?
All members of the SBC are voting members.
4. Why were 12 of the 14 positions on the Building Committee allotted to School Committee persons, town officials and employees and educators, leaving only two committee members chosen from the citizens at large?
See CMR 963 for membership requirements (as noted above). Also, the SBC includes four community representatives: an educator, one architect and two engineers.
5. Were there any standards of conduct stipulated for the Building Committee?
See CMR 963 for responsibilities and membership (as noted above).
6. When the Project Manager was chosen what was his mandate? How was the project described? What committee objectives and preferences were outlined for him?
Per Chapter 193 of the Acts of 2004, an Owner's Project Manager (OPM) must be retained by Awarding Authority for any publically funded construction project over $1,500,000. On March 5, 2009, the SBC voted unanimously to approve Joslin Lesser & Associates Inc. (Joslin Lesser) of Watertown, Mass., as the OPM for the Feasibility Study/ Schematic Design portion of the Longmeadow High School project. The OPM was selected through a Request for Services which can be obtained via the Town's Procurement Officer. See the RFS for project description, committee objectives and preferences.
7. Please provide the same information outlined in question 7 above as it pertains to the Architect chosen.
The Architect was selected through a Request for Designer Services which can be obtained via the Town's Procurement Officer. See above. The selection was jointly made with the MSBA Designer Selection Panel as outlined in CMR 963. On May 19, 2009, three members of the SBC met with the nine members of the MSBA Designer Selection Panel to review nine applications for architect. The Panel selected 3 firms to be interviewed. On June 16, 2009, the three firms were interviewed and the Designer Selection Panel chose the Office of Michael Rosenfeld. See the RFS for project description, committee objectives and preferences.
8. Why are the citizens of Longmeadow being told that failure of the vote on June 8 will result in loss of all funding and state assistance for 10 to 15 years?
The SBC has posted the MSBA's policy for a failed town meeting vote on its Web site. The MSBA reviewed Longmeadow's Feasibility Study and Schematic Design and approved the proposed option for new construction and renovation. If the town is unable to secure the votes within 120 days after board approval and the MSBA grants an additional vote, the subsequent vote would be for the same option, as approved for scope and budget by the MSBA on March 31. If either (a) the MSBA does not grant an additional vote opportunity or (b) the vote fails, the school district will likely be required to submit a new Statement of Interest to the MSBA and await a second invitation from the MSBA to enter the feasibility study phase of the MSBA's process. From the "MSBA Policy Statement on Failed Local Vote" The MSBA appreciates the challenges that school districts face, but the MSBA's regulations specifically include this 120-day deadline for a local appropriation to ensure that the MSBA's capital program funds are targeted toward projects and school districts that are ready and able to make the financial commitment and move forward in a timely manner. Given the overwhelming capital needs of school districts across the Commonwealth and the MSBA's limited capital program funds, the MSBA cannot indefinitely tie up funds allocated for a project that lacks local support.
9. Why have the citizens of Longmeadow been told that the high school is overcrowded when that is not the case?
The citizens of Longmeadow have never been told by the School Building Committee that the high school is overcrowded. It appears that you are quoting a statement by Susan Altman that was included in a letter to the editor. Altman had referenced a quote from a local newspaper article that claimed that the MSBA Executive Director cited overcrowding as one of the issues that a new facility will address at Longmeadow High School. As noted in the response to the letter to the editor, the SBC did not make such a statement and cannot verify whether the quotation was accurately reported or not. However, the SBC can verify that the Statement of Interest (SOI) that was submitted to the MSBA does not include overcrowding as a reason for considering a long term building solution. The SOI was based on code violations, health and safety issues and structural/mechanical deficiencies. In fact the new school will be smaller than the current one and will be an estimated 25 percent more energy efficient. None of the documents submitted to nor received from MSBA reference overcrowding as a deficiency. Copies of all official MSBA correspondence are available to the public.
10. Why does the Building Committee Public Forum presentation claim that furnishings and equipment for Scheme 2B will cost only $1.5 million when $10 million is a realistic figure?
The Schematic Design budget, available in the complete Schematic Design Report which is located at Storrs Library, allocates $1,645,102 for furnishings and $1,197,000 for technology. These budgets were developed by the Architect's furniture and technology consultants. These budgets are consistent with recent school projects of similar size. This budget was approved by the MSBA Board of Directors on March 31.
11. What is the total amount of money set aside for contingencies for Scheme 2B?
The Schematic Design budget, available in the complete Schematic Design Report which is located at Storrs Library, includes the following contingencies: a) Design & Pricing Contingency: $5,656,228; b) Escalation Contingency: $2,002,972; c) Construction Contingency: $3,193,699; and d) Owner's Contingency: $784,000.
12. What is the cost of construction for the rehab portion of Scheme 2B?
The total project budget is $78,452,888 comprised of $9,193,620 for the renovated portion and $69,259,272 for the new portion. The breakdowns of all costs of the renovated and new portions of the project can be found in the Schematic Design budget available in the Schematic Design report, available at Storrs Library.
13. What is the cost of construction for the new portion of Scheme 2B?
The total project budget is $78,452,888 comprised of $9,193,620 for the renovated portion and $69,259,272 for the new portion. The breakdowns of all costs of the renovated and new portions of the project can be found in the Schematic Design budget available in the Schematic Design report, available at Storrs Library.
Thank you for your correspondence. The Longmeadow SBC welcomes questions from the public. Letters may be addressed to the SBC via e-mail at longmeadowsbc@yahoo.com or via mail at School Building Committee, 127 Grassy Gutter Rd., Longmeadow, MA 01106.
Robert Barkett and Christine Swanson
Co-Chairs of the Longmeadow School Building Committee


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