Minuteman High School proposed renovation

webgenericLEXINGTON - One of the many challenges that prompted the $50,000 grant and formation of the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District Regional Agreement Amendment Subcommittee is the renovation of the high school building.

In August 2010, the Minuteman district towns agreed to pay for a $724,000 feasibility budget to study what renovations need to be done the 40-year-old building. The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) will pick up 40 percent of the costs for the study, leaving the district to cover the remaining $430,000.

The project is still at the beginning stages, the MSBA approved the feasibility study in June 2012. A project manager was hired last fall and Superintendent Edward Bouquillon believes the project will have a project designer and architecture some time in the next two months.

Once the feasibility study is completed, the next step would be projecting a budget for the actual renovation costs. Bouquillon estimates shovels could be hitting the ground in 2015.

While Bouquillon estimates the actual building cost could be upward of $30 million there are still many questions the subcommittee will need to address: What is a fair cost sharing formula to cover the price of the renovation? How big should an expansion of the school be, if any?

The current Minuteman High School building was designed to accommodate more than 1,000 students, according to Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools Consultant David Tobin. But in the last decade the school has not breached more than 800 enrolled students. In two of the last 10, years the schools population has dipped below 600 students.

With dwindling enrollment, a refurbished district agreement could result in members leaving the district. This left many members of the subcommittee wondering if the district would have enough funding from within to cover remaining costs.

Both the renovation project and the district agreement are working parallel, but MARS Executive Director Steve Hemman said one task might need to take precedence over the other.

"The regionalization issue needs to be decided and then when the preliminary building work is ready to go, you'll know which towns are in and which towns are out," Hemman said.

Hemman said it would be difficult for the member towns to pay for the full price especially since the size of the district is yet to be determined.

Bouquillon said since both plans are working on roughly the same time line, the feasibility study findings could be finished around the same time a redistricting solution is finished next year.

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