Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wildwood Gone Wild

Wildwood Building Project now expected to cost $33 million in town funds
Wildwood Building Committee yesterday afternoon

A day after the Select Board agreed to place a Debt Exclusion Override on the November 8 ballot the Wildwood School Building Committee heard what the possible amount would be:  A lot.

 Presentation to Select Board Monday night

$33 million to be precise, or perhaps the word precise is a tad too precise at this moment.

The Committee also heard about estimates that already came in almost $2 million too high, so the OPM and architects had to delete or reduce items.

 Recent cost cuts

When Assistant Town Manager Dave Ziomek questioned why the building will only be LEED Silver vs LEED Gold certified, he was told that too was a trade off due to cost constraints.

The November 8th ballot question will not have an actual amount but by then a more precise number will be known and the November 14th Town Meeting will need to vote a bond authorization for a precise amount.  That requires a two-thirds vote.

By then the project will only have a 6% contingency built in, so if in the final stages of construction  that gets overrun the additional amount needed will not be funded/reimbursed by MSBA.  Currently the overall reimbursement rate is projected at 50%-55%.

 Click to enlarge/read

The town will pay as we go the entire $67 million, but will also get the reimbursements within weeks of submitting bills for eligible costs bringing the total town spending down to, maybe, $33 million but that does not include interest.

Embattled School Superintendent Maria Geryk, a member of the Wildwood Building Committee, was not at the meeting and did not attend the Select Board meeting on Monday night.

The Amherst Pelham Regional School Committee meets later this afternoon in Executive Session for the second time in a week to discuss her future employment.


Anonymous said...

So for $33-38 million (cost overruns) we get:
-- new buidlings that most elementary parents and teachers don't want,
-- higher taxes and
-- no reuse of school buildings that exist and are underenrolled.

And the superintendent who may be leaving?

When do we get to the good part?

Are there at least some solar panels in the mix?

Laura Quilter said...

Getting less green all the time, and if we're worried about indoor air quality, then moving from linoleum (green, non-VOC, long-lasting) to vinyl composite tiles (petroleum-based, VOC off-gassing, and falls apart pretty quickly) is a short-term cost savings and a long-term expense.

The moisture reduction also seems like a poor choice of cuts to make, given the concerns about mold and indoor air quality here in the Valley.

Anonymous said...

Dammed if you do and dammed if you don't comes to mind. If Ms Quilter had her way we'd have nothing. Or we'd have a new school to replace only Wildwood, where her children attend school, and Fort River, a truly sick building, would need to sit for a decade or more and wait its turn.
This post by Ms Quilter is typical of the "school administration is never right and can do nothing well" crowd. Frankly I've had it. They just like to throw bombs and take pot shots at EVERYTHING! We all know MA Quilter doesn't want this building at all so her complaints about LEED silver vs gold are disingenuous.

Anonymous said...

The good thing about the early November vote is that voters can say no to this proposal to destroy every elementary school community in Amherst to go to the mega 2-6 Wildwood--and there's time for alternatives. No one wants to leave Fort River students behind. There are other options. Almost no one wants to change our neighborhood schools. Keep our schools' communities together. Time for the voice of the people, not this failed administration.

Anonymous said...

A big price to pay if we change models: most of our schools rely heavily on PGOs (w the possible exception of the MS, which supports the idea). The reason our PGOs can be so heavily relied upon by our Admin is because of how dedicated and loyal parents and guardians are to their kid's school. That is most likely to disappear with the proposed k-1 and 2-6 model. Not going to be a lot of buy-in for a few years of school attendance (and split in parent's/guardian's efforts between schools). The admin will definitely have to raise their game. PGOs currently are the source of information, not the admin (who doesn't a terrible job- just look at some of the school websites...).

Anonymous said...

How many large construction projects actually end up costing what the initial proposals suggest? Anyone remember The Big Dig? Just look at what happened there.

As long as the projects are lined up and taxpayers just keep agreeing, they will continue to foot the bills. We are talking MILLIONS here. MANY MILLIONS. And, there are so many other wishes on the seems never ending!

On top of this, if Hilary (big spender) ever makes it in to the White House, your Federal and State taxes will go out of sight, funding all her promises. We sure do not want to go there. Soon, we will all be homeless.

Anonymous said...

Millions and millions, I do not believe that Amherst would be a very good place to buy a home any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Please tell us what the other options are.

Laura Quilter said...

Anon 11:59am, it's true I think this project is pretty bad. Well, really bad. However, I can also recognize pieces of the project that make it better, or worse. Linoleum is better in many respect than vinyl. Non-VOC paint is better than VOC paint.

It doesn't really qualify as "disingenuous" to point out things I really do believe. I think a lot of people don't want this project, and those people who are on the fence should know there are a lot of good reasons to oppose the project. But if the project happens, hopefully it will be as energy-efficient as possible, thoughtful about indoor air quality, sustainability, and other values shared widely in Amherst by me and many others.

Anonymous said...

I believe voc paint off gasses pretty quick...just wait a few weeks until occupancy. .I grew with vocal paint a day i am fine...fine...find. ..future emails. ...ouch...mumbo jumbo. ..fine .........

Dr. Ed Part I said...

This is asinine -- all it does is shift construction costs to operating costs.

1: However configured/defined, you are talking about a portal through which 750-850 children must pass twice daily, essentially concurrently. In the rain -- notwithstanding this spring/summer, this isn't Southern California -- YOU NEED THE CANOPY FOR A SCHOOL THIS SIZE!!!!

(A) It's far safer to tolerate children running for the shelter of the canopy and then insisting they walk through the doors than having them all madly dashing for the door. The latter is how you get little fingers sliced off in doorjams and you really aren't going all of which otherwise comes into the building. Or buildings weigh more than most of the children -- weigh more than some adults do.

(B) Honestly think you are going to get children to stand in the pouring rain until given permission to go to bus or parent's car which they can see? Or parents particularly happy about this? Or the teachers enjoy getting soaked in the downpour?

(C)When walking under the shelter, children are shedding water, slush, etc. -- which otherwise gets into the building. In addition to slip"bio-swale/fall issues from wet floors, this becomes water vapor which leads to mold. (And as to Fort River: Anyone ever thought about the moisture load from children's wet shoes/clothing as contributing to the moisture and thus mold in the building?)

2: The bridge -- bodies of water near elementary schools are not a good idea in general -- (Hey AFD, APD, a "Bio-Swale" deep enough to need a bridge and third graders, enough said?)

Notwithstanding that, if this swamp/brook/pond/whatever is between where children are and where they want/need to be, well.... you are going to have a hard enough time keeping them out of it even with a bridge -- otherwise the more intrepid will inevitably .....

3: Reduce pavers by 25% -- and create mudflats which will then have to have pavers installed later, possibly after injury/lawsuit.

4: Reduce pervious pavement. Rain & snowmelt either soaks into the ground or runs off somewhere. This is a valler -- where's the water going to run TO?

5: Reduce plantings -- no trees or shrubs? Think that would last long in Amherst -- or that the taxpayers wouldn't still be paying for this, somehow?

Dr. Ed said...

7:52 -- VOCs only are a problem in a "tight" building -- lots of things (including CO) aren't issues if you have enough air diluting & venting them out. A century ago, people had gaslights, unvented gas water heaters and coal-burning kitchen/parlor stoves. Houses were so drafty that (usually) it wasn't a problem...

Remember that MANUFACTURED gas consisted largely of Carbon Monoxide -- not the Methane we use today.

Dr. Ed said...

CORRECTION: I don't know how the above got scrambled -- an exterior DOOR weighs at least 100-150 lbs and lots of children don't.

It's slip/fall issues.

Dr. Ed said...

Part II:

Eliminating moisture mitigation is truly asinine -- Amherst is a drained swamp with lots of moisture. UNLESS you mitigate it, or have a building that isn't weathertight, you will have mold.

Gym glazing means "windows." Less sunlight.

As to floor treatment, in addition to all the stuff Laura mentioned, cracks & crevices become places where water accumulates and mold grows.``

As to how "green" it is -- two things:

1: The more energy efficient a building is, the lower your utility bills. Your long-term savings can vastly repay your initially higher cost.

2: OUTSIDE AIR is a big issue -- do you merely re-circulate the stale inside air, do you dump it overboard and bring in fresh air which you must heat, or do you use the heat in the air you are exhausting to heat the incoming air? The latter is the best -- and the most expensive.

Sckened by admin in Pelham said...

Leaving ? Why would she think about leaving.. she has the perfect job. A great team of people the protect her.. So many administrators to help her.. no school committee that holds,her accountable for her actions, 3 contracts that make it practically impossible to be fired. An asst superintendent that covers her whenever she goes MIA. A green light to do as she please all for 6 figures ! I wouldn't go anywhere!

Anonymous said...

There has to be other options. I'm playing catch up. A few questions why when there is twice as much land at fr aren't we looking at that space ? How are they addressing the increased traffic flow ? What about the strong / NE st intersection being how dangerous it is already ? How about parent pick up because many parents pick up everyday ? Why aren't we funding a away to use the MS space more effectively? I feel like the timing of the ballot placemant is manipulative. Why didn't we ask a month ago so it could be placed on with information? Why when it seemed the public was against this and the teachers did we continue to push forward?? If the public is against this then why was Vira the only SC member to vote against it? Too many questions not enough answers.. or accountability all the way around..

Sckened by admin in Pelham said...

Welcome to z pelham reality.. New school new community building taxes through thecriof.. yes amherst not far on that.. school choice making it so people dOnt have to buy to here to attend our well ranked school.. thus home sales down here .. up in neighboring less taxed towns like belchertown. No one buying houses.. just choicing in. Some due to the long bus rides from school to the outskirts of town.

Laura Quilter said...

anon 11:49 am

Some answers (1 of 2):

A few questions why when there is twice as much land at fr aren't we looking at that space ? The School Building Committee elected to go for the Wildwood space. The choice I believe was predicated mostly on the proximity of Fort River to a 100-year floodplain, which doesn't make a LOT of sense; all of Hadley is a 100-year floodplain. You can construct safely there.

* How are they addressing the increased traffic flow ? They are not at all as far as I know.

* What about the strong / NE st intersection being how dangerous it is already ? Nothing.

* How about parent pick up because many parents pick up everyday ? It's going to be bigger than currently, so more pavement at the Wildwood site. It will be hard, because with 750 kids being there and a longer bus route, there will definitely be an increase in parents picking up, but to my knowledge, none of that has been projected.

* Why aren't we funding a away to use the MS space more effectively? School Administration never presented this idea and School Building Committee (SBC) never brought it up for themselves. Community members raised it but were told that it was a non-starter because the Middle School is ARPS (regional). The regional agreement does not in fact say that, but by the time that was clarified, the course was set by the Administration. (Actually, it's pretty clear that the course was set by at least early 2015 if not earlier. I think they just never considered anything else.)

Laura Quilter said...

Some answers (continued, 2 of 2):

* I feel like the timing of the ballot placemant is manipulative. Why didn't we ask a month ago so it could be placed on with information? All along the "asks" have been done as late as possible. The effect has been to minimize and contain public discussion. The best example is that last fall (September-October 2015) the School Administration held their recommendation until TWO WEEKS before the School Committee was scheduled to vote on reconfiguring the school system. In good faith, they believed that School Committee vote had to be in early November; they didn't acknowledge publicly the plan to reconfigure until mid-October. ... Then Maria Kopicki carefully read the MSBA guidelines and determined that the School Committee vote did NOT have to be right away. They still did not change the schedule and ignored Kopicki. Kopicki called the state agency -- the MSBA -- and when they heard about the confusion they called the School Administration to clarify. THEN the vote was rescheduled to January. Over the next 3 months parents organized and forced the School Committee to do a survey, which the School Committee then ignored and voted for reconfiguration as originally planned.

* Why when it seemed the public was against this and the teachers did we continue to push forward?? Administration and key members of the School Committee were in lockstep agreement on it.

* If the public is against this then why was Vira the only SC member to vote against it? You would have to ask the individual members. Traphagen seemed torn and asked hard questions a couple of times, but in her statement said that she was persuaded that the School Administration would greatly increase pre-K and that would be a great benefit. I am not convinced that we will really see a real increase in pre-K, and in any case, the increase we need is to go to full-day and help out working families more. Rick Hood has for years apparently liked the split grade configuration. There was a lot of "equity" smokescreen thrown up by the School Administration, but when you dig into it, the research shows that the most vulnerable kids are actually harmed by large grade sizes, large buildings, large classrooms, all of which we will have.

My sense is that the School Administration hates redistricting and wants to avoid it, and that, plus the apparent $$ savings of consolidated schools, plus the ability of central administration to better control curriculum, are the ultimate main drivers.

Anonymous said...

Add to the mix, the fact is that Fort River and Wildwood now have space for preschool classrooms which can be set up today. Some alterations to bathrooms would be needed. So, if a key purpose of reconfigeration is for equity (i.e. to make sure every kid gets free preschool and start kindergarten at the same place as wealthier kids) there is no reason the district is not offering preschool now. There is space and political support for this.

Why wait 3 more years and have 3 more years of kids starting school behind their peers? We will spend a lot of money on intervention services to get these kids up to speed. And it's tough to sit in a class and feel like everyone is ahead of you.

Janet McGowan

Anonymous said...

There used to be a preschool at Wildwood. There are bathrooms near the kindergarten for smaller children.

Anonymous said...

also, remember that the transition year in the current plan requires that the WW "wing" that will be completed first will house all of the WW students for at least a year until the other 'wing' is complete and the reconfiguration then happens. During this transition/continued building time, the WW wing will have to accommodate the K-1 students. thus will have to be built to accommodate those students for a year (or more).

Anonymous said...

The ill-conceived idea of a small town trying to put all these children together in a "megaschool" is outrageous. I taught young children for many, many years and I can tell you, with complete certainty, this is not the best plan for young children. They are far better off in small schools, preferably neighborhood schools. Don't allow the "smooth talkers" to convince you to vote for a plan like this if you really care about our children.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad you have drunk the mega school Kool aid.
It is not a mega school. It is two small co-located school. Classes will NOT be bigger in the 2 co-located schools. Grades will also NOT be bigger. There is a lot of false information in Ms. Quilter's post. Don't drink the Kool Aid.

Maria K said...

Grade sizes do increase. Currently, Grades K-6 are in three different buildings with 2-3 classes each (~40-60 kids/grade/school). In the proposed reconfiguration, grades 2-6 would be in 2 "co-located schools" with ~4 classes each (~75-90 kids/grade/"school"); grades K-1 would be in one school with ~8 classes each (~150-170 kids/grade/school). This is part of the plan to save money by maximizing the ability to reshuffle kids and minimizing the number of teachers (the District cites 5 fewer teachers as part of their annual operational savings - see the PDP and PSR submitted to the MSBA).

The term "co-located schools" is problematic for a number of reasons (for example, the fact that there is one gymnasium/auditorium, cafeteria, bus loop/parent pick-up/entrance area).

Please indicate what specific information you believe to be false so we can discuss the issues.

Sckened by admin in Pelham said...

Leave Laura alone. She is helping us by making aware the public aware of the changes that are happening Under our noses. As we get ready to borrow between 33 and 38 million dollars probably between 8 and 12% in overages, more on interest rates ?? If we actually hit that number, the last thing we want to spend that kind of money and have an end project that is not going to be viable or sustainable. For us the number of years we need this building to keep our children safe and healthy, our grandchildren, and their children. We want it done right with the lowest Possible cost. NOT THE OTHER WAY. Also if Maria and Michael had done this right choose the option people in our town wanted. If they had been transparent... Oops theres thatc
word again. Then maybe should have more than 15 supporters left in this town

Sckened by admin in Pelham said...

There Also questions Miss Quilter has been portrayed all over the place on this Mega school issue by people that respond here.

I have not drunkn the koolaid yet. PLEASE RESPOND TO ANON 1149. Ms Q missed some key questions... I need to know..I want to hear your sides side.. So tAlk to ne.
I do think its terrible for the MS blend socialization at 7th grade for SP&L. I think its,not great for families.. With younger abd older kids (etc. 1&4) convince me different.

Anonymous said...

Wow and then imagine if Pelham regionalizes then Pelham kids get pushed in the next. .im liking less and less of what I am hearing. I hope you're right I hope the UMass kids don't vote on this night of school hope they left the town folks vote on it and November. It's really scary to think that the UMass students could decide our Children's Fate on the school. Someone is going to have to do a lot of educating of the public.

Anonymous said...

TRAFFIC IS HUGE ALL ASPECTS. THE increased stress on the intersections ! parents driving across town like get other kids.. Case scenario. Pick up crocker 310... Reality leave school at 320 (if lucky) drive to ww to get Johnny.. Arrive ( 335) if lucky..

Anonymous said...

So who's up for organizing a meeting so we can really out lie all the positives I'm sure Laura and some of you already have all this started and all the negatives the tax implications and when I'm talking about negative negative Street UMass student taxes going up for landlords rents going up for renters traffic flow over there by North East how it's going to affect them because they're going to go I asked 10 students so far if they were going to vote and there was a ballot question on there that had nothing to do with them if they wouldn't answer it and they said they probably would and since they're impassioned about education and we're talking about a new school and. And we have a large education department over at UMass I think we're going to see some UMass about what's on this issue however that being a side. I think we need to put together a really good both sides of the of the School the positives than negatives Exedra and start educating people. And then maybe we need to talk about what the alternatives are like what Hilda said. If they were really able to address the traffic concerns and agreed to that on the town level this is what we're going to do. As well as the parent pick-up concerns. And and made those two schools Kay pre-K through 6 and left Crocker alone. It doesn't affect all the work the Consultants Maybe some minor revisions to the architectural plans. But we should definitely have a meeting so that we can start educating the voters cuz November is red around the corner.

Anonymous said...

And maybe all of our suggestions will just get laughed at and thrown out the window but at least we can say we tried at least the educational piece will be complete prior to voting

Anonymous said...

Wow. Can't you check what you have written before posting? I could not figure out what you're trying to say!

Anonymous said...

Sry I cant edit. Basically have meeting . To set up an down an dirty educatimg the public regarding this,ballot question very neutral.
* all positives / all negatives
* tax implications
* outline it all ... Separate one for umass outline positives and neg for them.
* also put together a list for the school mike morris answers regarding traffic plan
* town questions regarding traffic concerns
* also devise any changes like keeping pre -6 as hilda suggested together in new co school .

Anonymous said...

Exactly this is going to the voters. No one needs to approve what we say or do to educate the voters. I admit I dont know enough personally to design that flyer. I do know we should have 2 one for tax payers .. One for students .. Maybe three one for parents.. each group has their own motivations for voting whatever way they choose .. I think not educating the voters would be a huge mistske. Yes we can try even if the selectboard doesnt think its important and us leaving it to the people .

Anonymous said...

A note about Fort River and flood plains. Have you Laura ever been to Fort River after it rains? Not a drenching rain. Just a regular rain. The ground is saturated for days. You really can't build there. Anyone who has been there after it rains knows that.

Anonymous said...

Really? There's room right now in those schools for pre-k classrooms? Where? I go to Fort River all the time and I can tell you there is NO room for pre-k classrooms.

Sckened by admin in Pelham said...

We will lose five teachers which means class sizes up.. What admininatrative cut?? Let make admin cuts. make and keep the trachers . We are top heavy our kids are paying the price.. Our adminatratirs are expensive.. When on salary the norm is to wrk 50 + hours. I am pretty sure we are not getting the most out of these investments.

Sckened by admin in Pelham said...

Someone who has a decent idea . Unless we are going to let umass stufents not only decide the fate of the adults in town but now add the fate our children as well. I would help but I couldnt ne impartial, edit, spell and have no valid points..

Anonymous said...

As a Crocker Farm parent, I am dismayed that the new building & co-schools there are continually referred to,even by ARPS administrators, as the "new Wildwood" and "new Fort River". Kids from the Crocker Farm community will be there too, but the impact on Crocker Farm has hardly been mentioned except for that it will become a preK-1st grade early education center.

Many kids who will be at Crocker Farm under the reconfigured school will be there not for preK (unless the preK significantly expands) but just for two years. Crocker Farm will never again have the kind of community that comes from having kids & families in the same school for a longer period of time. The new school building & co-located schools will have 5 grades (2-6) so should still be okay community-wise, but Crocker Farm will never be the same.

Anonymous said...

8:01 -- Fort River and Wildwood are undernrolled and preK classes can fit there. Crocker Farm is overenrolled and some students/families could be sent to FR and WW.

Anonymous said...

yes, Crocker Farm is quite crowded currently. The CF community room was turned into classroom space last year & is likely going to stay that way, at least until the possible reconfiguration. It would be nice if the administration would look at this overcrowding more closely and consider some possible redistricting before the new school building, if approved, opens up to Crocker Farm area families 4 years from now. Already there are some families who move into the Crocker Farm area who are being told that their kids cannot attend CF because they is no space for them there. It is no doubt frustrating and disappointing to them that they cannot attend school with their neighbors.

Anonymous said...

But I thought everyone was currently going to cherished neighborhood schools! Oh my you mean we don't have neighborhood schools for all?

Anonymous said...

We have neighborhood schools. In any neighborhood pretty much everyone goes to school with their neighbors.

What we don't have, apparently, is a school administration that districts, in other words, does the work it is paid to do, or a school committee that does the work it is elected to do.

Sckened by admin in Pelham said...

Right on . And if the voters of this town are not careful we will end up with a school that is not family friendly or neighborhood friendly. Please make them make changes to the plan..
Our neighborhood schools are no longer going to exist. It's not as if this plan is we are going to put a lot of stress on families with multiple children in the school or at different age levels. We will put stress on low income families. Some of our kids are going to end up on the bus for an hour. So For the children vote no.
Instead of letting in ministration bully us around like they bully school committee. Like they bully unhappy parents, like they bully teachers take a stand and say no to this project as it is make them do the work to at least make it acceptable for the families of this town.

Anonymous said...

Other planned expenses for the town are not being mentioned in this discussion- and have to be taken into account!

The blank check offered by our Assistant Superintendent in planning for Crocker Farm's new mission
Plans to expand the library
Plans for a S Amherst Fire Station
Plans for a new DPW building.