The School Committee has officially removed its statement of interest from the Veterans Middle School Accelerated Repair Program after the declaration of removal was approved by the Select Board.
The program, which would have been approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), sought to repair the middle school’s roof. When the School Committee initially applied for the program, Marblehead High School was also listed in the application, but Veterans Middle School was the only one approved.
School Committee Chair Sarah Fox explained the reasoning for removing the statement of interest at a Select Board meeting on May 10, stating that over time, the project would end up being more costly by going through the MSBA.
“The escalation cost that we would incur through that 18-month timeline that would defer the project for that long would outweigh what we would recoup from the MSBA project,” she said.
Fox also added that by going through the MSBA, there would be “certain stipulations” that the town would be required to adhere to, which could be avoided if the town were to proceed on its own.
“The total cost of the project will be higher if we do it through the MSBA and therefore although we recoup some money, the net difference will not actually be a cost benefit to the town,” Fox said. “Especially when you look at the fact that we will continue to accrue damage to the building for the next 18 months that we’ll have to fix.”
Select Board Chair Moses Grader inquired about the recoupment level that the MSBA would provide for the project, to which Fox stated that it would be significantly less than the total for the Brown School project.
Select Board member Alexa Singer inquired about the difference in the recoupment process between roofs and buildings.
“Is it true or not true that reimbursement with roofs versus buildings, it’s a completely different process?” Singer asked.
Fox replied that it is a different process and revealed that the reason that the high school was not approved for the project was that the building did not meet the required age to be considered, despite its need for major renovations.
“Although we have data that shows these types of roofs have been since found to fail much sooner, the MSBA’s scoring process hasn’t caught up to that,” she said.
Town Administrator Thatcher Kezer noted before Fox’s update that the reason the request for removal was brought to the Select Board was that it needed to be signed by the School Committee chair, superintendent, and Select Board chair.
In other business, the Select Board approved the use of $94,513 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for classroom equipment and technology. Kezer said that these funds will “help address learning loss due to COVID.”
Out of the $6,144,30 in ARPA funds that Marblehead has been allocated, $3,358,588 remains.