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East Longmeadow School Committee discusses priority projects for capital planning

Nov. 20, 2014 | Chris Goudreau

EAST LONGMEADOW – Two top priority items discussed by the School Committee at its Nov. 17 meeting for capital planning were the replacement of two hot water tank for $25,000 at East Longmeadow High School (ELHS) and five buses for the district for an estimated $85,000 each.

Any items going before the Capital Planning Committee would have to be approved by residents at a town meeting, Superintendent of Schools Gordon Smith explained. Any potential project would likely be completed after the beginning of the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2015.

 “You have two hot water tanks at the high school that are beginning to rust at the bottom and so there’s a potential there for leaks,” Smith said. “So what the School Committee asked me is to look at should we do that now.”

Smith said there isn’t a national standard for a set amount of mileage for school buses. The Capital Planning Committee and the school district have agreed that when any of the district’s buses reach 10 years of service, they would be put on the capital plan for replacement. 

Five buses in the district’s fleet have met that 10-year threshold, he stated. The buses are rusting in areas such as around the steps, the wheel well near the tires, and in the student aisles.

In other business, Smith said the district submitted a statement of interest for a high school building project to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). The MSBA is anticipated to respond to the district’s statement of interest sometime between November and January.

The next step, if the MSBA invites the district into its building program would be to conduct a feasibility study, he noted. A town meeting vote by residents would determine whether the study is funded.

“It’s not just going to look at full new building,” Smith added. “That would be one element of the feasibility study. They might look at ‘Can you solve your problems with a massive renovation? Can you do an addition?’”

Starting from the statement of interest to a finished project, the overall timeline could be six to 10 years, he explained.

“Our hope is that we get invited [into the MSBA program] and we’re looking at maybe six years,” Smith added. “However, there’s a lot of things that go the right way for that to happen.”

Smith also presented his superintendent SMART goals for the district, which focused on student learning goals such as establishing baselines for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam for grades 3 through 8 this year.

The committee unanimously approved Smith’s SMART goal recommendations.

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