State to review new Wareham elementary school plans on June 6

By Matthew Bernat | May 23, 2018
Photo by: Lydia Goerner State officials on June 6 will review plans for a proposed $86 million school where Minot Forest is currently located.

Plans for a three-story $90 million elementary school will soon be in front of state officials for approval.

The plans call for tearing down Minot Forest Elementary School and constructing a new building at the same site. Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood said the Massachusetts School Building Authority will review the proposal on June 6. The approval is required for state reimbursement. Shaver-Hood noted the project is on track.

“We’re moving along very nicely,” she said at Wednesday's School Committee meeting.

Members of the School Committee-appointed School Building Committee have been drafting plans over the past year.

On March 27, the School Building Committee favored the $90 million building with space for 1,020 students. The project will combine Minot Forest and Decas Elementary into one school. Officials said the new building is needed to replace an aging Minot Forest Elementary. The school is more than 50 years old.

On June 27, the School Building Authority is scheduled to vote on the plans. If that happens, Shaver-Hood said officials will start a public outreach campaign.

“Now it’s time to start informing the public to let them know which direction where headed and to ask for support,” said Shaver-Hood. “This is a very important milestone for the district.”

At April Town Meeting in 2017, voters approved the borrowing of $1 million to fund a feasibility study. The feasibility study explored different options for revamping the school and is a requirement of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which will reimburse the town roughly $39 million for the project’s construction cost.

Plans call for completing a design in time for voters to consider a debt exclusion at the October 2018 Town Meeting. If approved, the issue would go before local voters for final approval during the state's Nov. 6 election as a ballot question. The debt exclusion would raise taxes on residents to pay for the project for the life of the debt.

Comments (29)
Posted by: | May 24, 2018 05:56


Posted by: Spherebreaker | May 24, 2018 07:19

Absolutely right THKNG,  There is no reason a building, any building cannot be repaired. It is a crock of dung to say otherwise and these school clowns need to get back to reality with this spending

Posted by: cranky pants | May 24, 2018 07:41

“We’re moving along very nicely,” she said at Wednesday's School Committee meeting.

Yea, moving along very nicely for a town with no money..  someone oust this flip-flop artist.

Posted by: Peaches0409 | May 24, 2018 08:37

I think people just like to complain. The school will cost more to repair that it would to build a new one because of the grant we have been selected to receive. That is just the repairs for Minot. Decas also needs a ton of repairs. We could build two schools with what it would cost to fix the two that are crumbling. Which part of that is everyone having all the difficulty with?

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 24, 2018 09:05

Heres some food for thought:


If the state pays 70% that means this will cost Wareham about $26 million.  That's a lot easier to swallow than $86 million.  $26 million doesn't sound too bad for a new school as described.


Can the school be renovated for less than $26 million?


Will the State pay for a percentage of the renovation?

Posted by: Doctor Deekas | May 24, 2018 09:19

WBTS the State will not pay 70%. No one gets that. There are too many projects out there that the State helps with, to allocate that percentage to anyone (the $1million feasibility study - yes, it does). Based on the article from several months ago, it looks like the State would contribute 56-60% tops to the building. So, WE are looking at about $38-40 million cost to our Town out of the project!

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 24, 2018 09:41

Doctor - thanks.  I recall that article but didn't remember what percentage was.  Stating  that the MSBA "will" reimburse 70% in this article then seems contrary and misleading. There's a lot of important facts and figures that we need to know in order to understand this massive undertaking.  I would hate to speculate that incorrect information that sweetens things up will be spread.

Posted by: retroversa | May 24, 2018 09:56

The state doesn't contribute any funds to a repair.  Building new will turn out to be less than repairing Decas and Minot.

Posted by: cranky pants | May 24, 2018 09:56

How is it that other schools in this state last well over 50 years ? Someone better inform them that the state is giving away free schools. Either that or we got ripped off and sold materials that had an expiration date... Seeing how they are crumbling.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | May 24, 2018 10:17

Put 13 million into it for repairs and be done with it. We would spend half of what a new school would cost us. If the kids and teachers don't like it, too bad.

Posted by: Duffman | May 24, 2018 11:00

Shaver-Hood has been strong arming her agenda from the start. My question is what does she plan to do once the voters say no. Spending money we don't have doesn't make sense. Do those portable classrooms become permanent? Minot won't be able to reopen without being brought up to code.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | May 24, 2018 15:22

Retroversa  - Regarding your claim that the state does not contribute any funds for school repairs the following quote is from the Massachusetts School Building Authority website:  "The MSBA (Massachusetts School Building Authority) Repair Program is intended for facilities in which the scope of a potential project is limited to the replacement or repair of a limited number of building systems. Repair projects are designed to materially extend the useful life of the school and preserve an asset that is otherwise capable of supporting the required educational program.

After a careful review of the advantages and disadvantages of the one-time Green Repair Program, the MSBA has decided to maximize the opportunities for Districts by offering two types of repairs – Major Repairs and Accelerated Repairs. Major Repair Projects will follow a process closely aligned with that of a new construction or renovation project in order to complete a broad range of scope updates at facilities that qualify. Accelerated Repair Projects will follow a shorter, more aggressive project timeline to complete projects limited to specific scope items and may allow districts to repair more than one school at a time."

For additional information or to verify above quote see:

Posted by: cranky pants | May 24, 2018 16:55

Go on ahead folks, drink the Kool-Aid...

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | May 24, 2018 21:27

hmmm...the cost just went up $4 million dollars.  This very article stated $86 million this morning.  Now it states $90 million.  Interesting...

Posted by: | May 25, 2018 06:20

I would like to see the estimates to fix these (CRUMBLING) schools. I haven't seen any bids  from contractors to repair both schools. If we see the big influx of students everyone is talking about from the new apartment buildings on RED BROOK rd, we're going to need both schools anyway. FIX THEM

Posted by: | May 25, 2018 06:27

Plus according to Andreas article, we CAN GET MONEY. I'm a NO vote on new school.

Posted by: WESProjInfo | May 25, 2018 11:11

Andrea, you are absolutely correct that the MSBA has an "Accelerated Repair" program specifically designed for schools in need of simple repair (boilers, roof or windows).  This is a very different program from their "Core Program" which is intended for schools like Minot and Decas which are far beyond their useful life.  These "Core Program" grant recipients require items beyond what is offered by the MSBA's "Accelerated Repair."  Examples might include sprinkler systems, shear/seismic upgrades, electrical upgrades, installation of code required mechanical ventilation or accessibility upgrades.  5.21 CMR Section 3.3.1 is clear that if work being performed amounts to more than 30% of the building's assessed value, full compliance is required.  This requirement is where the challenge lies, and is also what is driving the independent repair estimates for Minot and Decas which combined total $74,285,368 and would still leave Wareham with two inefficient and undersized buildings that do not support the district's educational programming needs and goals.

Posted by: WESProjInfo | May 25, 2018 11:13

THKNG60 - please visit the link below for access to the third party construction cost estimates, including the repair estimates.


Please keep in mind the third party estimates do not include soft costs such as design & management fees, for total project budget estimate comparison use this link:


Posted by: Uptohere | May 25, 2018 14:55

I believe we do need a new school and 1 big enough to handle pre k to 4 grade would be great and it would save some maintenance expense. But I DO NOT LIKE how they are going about it. It is being forced down our throats while eliminating any other options to get what they want.

All that aside, if the state will reimburse even 60% but we have to vote for 90 million what happens to that 54million(?) that comes back to us. I want to know how that works out. Does the town get to keep that and we are still on the hook for the whole 90 million?

Im all set to vote NO because I don't like the way this is going down. So knowing how this money plays out may change my mind. But I'm very leary on anything the town tells me from the actions I have seen the last 2 years alone.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | May 25, 2018 15:20

WESProjInfo – Thank you for your response to my comment.

I am curious about a few things:

According to a Wareham Courier/ Wicked Local May 15, 2018 article titled, Minot School Building Committee oks pre-K-grade-4 design (see link at bottom of this comment), after the recent decision to close the Minot School and relocate Minot students to other schools, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), recommended a second school construction plan which would reduce student capacity of the new school from 1020 to 820. Approximately how much of a cost reduction would be realized if the school building committee opted to accept the MSBA’s recommended 820 student capacity construction plan?

Also according to the Courier article, although the cost has increased from $86 million to $90 million, “there are always possibilities of things going wrong along the way, which could add substantially to the cost.” Cost overruns in school construction are not uncommon. While the article clearly states a goal of keeping the total construction cost “under $100 million” am I correct in interpreting that as goal and not as a guarantee?

Also according to the MSBA website, there are a number of costs associated with preparing new school construction for use by student and faculty for which the MSBA does not provide any funding, among them but not limited to: furnishings and equipment for the school, athletic fields, play grounds and landscaping. Has the committee prepared an itemized list of costs for which there will not be any MSBA reimbursement?

If yes, what is the estimated total for these items?

Has that estimated total been included in the $90 million estimate, or is it in addition to the $90 million estimate?

If an estimate of items for which the MSBA will not provide partial reimbursement has not been prepared, why hasn’t it been prepared?

Posted by: WESProjInfo | May 29, 2018 12:43

UPTOHERE - The forecast district share is a little over $39M.  Yes you are 100% correct that the MSBA will require voters to approve the full $90M project cost.  They do this in the event that for some reason the MSBA ceased to exist in the middle of a project, it would not impact a district's ability to complete the project. A highly unlikely scenario since the MSBA has stable funding through 1% of the 6.25% State Sales Tax.


However, Wareham would not need to bond the entire project, the amount borrowed only needs to cover the district's share of the project costs.  MSBA reimbursement payments are made on a monthly basis to keep the amount being borrowed as low as possible and interest charges at a minimum.


Posted by: WESProjInfo | May 29, 2018 13:04

ANDREA SMITH - The PREK-3 820 student scenario reduced state funding by an estimated $7M and Wareham's share by roughly $3M.  In short, for a 20% reduction in student capacity, the Town would save less than 10% on its share of building costs.  Should the Town need to add onto the PREK-3 building at a later date due to an unexpected increase in enrollment (ie potential new large development project), the Town would be responsible for 100% of the cost of that addition at a later date.  This, combined with the different approach in Educational Programming between 4th grade and MS aged students led to the SBC's decision to stick with PREK-4 in one building.


As for cost increase from $87 to $90M, there were three different 3 story PREK-4 concepts evaluated on April 30th, ranging in cost from $87-92M, the SBC voted to select the middle priced option which was estimated at $90M since it provided far more flexibility and better supported the district's Educational Vision.


Concerning items ineligible for MSBA funding, there are many, including site costs in excess of 8% of building costs, building costs in excess of $333/SF, vinyl asbestos tile abatement, moving costs, swing space costs, etc.  This is all factored into the district share projection of ~$39M and is why reimbursement doesn't simply equate to 72% of the ~$90M total project cost.  The $90M includes all furnishings, technology, site costs, contingencies, etc.


Unfortunately there are many conditions outside of the control of the project team, a weather event in the Gulf of Mexico can double the price of drywall or petroleum dependent products, or tariffs on steel & aluminum could have major impacts on market conditions.  Typical contingencies and market escalation are certainly included within the $90M estimates, barring any extenuating circumstances such as the few examples above, we believe all potential costs an ineligible scope have been properly accounted for.


If you have access to Facebook I highly recommend following along with the "Wareham Elementary School Building Project" page to view all of the detailed information reviewed at those SBC meetings.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | May 29, 2018 13:11

The school is not beyond its useful life. Stop spreading disinformation! It needs repairs like a furnace, windows and a roof. There is no reason for a new school other than some consultant looking to make a buck

Posted by: WESProjInfo | May 29, 2018 14:05

SPHEREBREAKER - The repairs you list above do not address accessibility requirements which impact everything from walkways to casework to plumbing to corridor/door/room dimensions and will be triggered by the cost of improvements you list and required under 5.21 CMR Section 3.3.1.  They also do not address many other necessary upgrades such as shear/seismic structural bracing, sprinkler protection, mechanical ventilation, exterior insulation and asbestos abatement.


Even if the building were to be repaired, it would still be far too small for the student enrollment; music and art classes are being held in the gymnasium, showers are being utilized as office space and typical classrooms lack electrical/technology infrastructure and are sized below DESE standards.


There is no financial incentive for the project's two independent estimators which have provided estimates for the cost of repairs to push for a new building over a renovation, the estimators scope of work remains the same in either scenario.  Dozens of communities with 1950s/60s era facilities have undergone feasibility studies and reached the same conclusion.


Posted by: Andrea Smith | May 29, 2018 16:48

WESPROINFO - thank you for your response.


Based upon your response regarding items ineligible for MSBA funding, is it correct to conclude that the Town of Wareham will be financially responsible for the total amount of any cost overruns (any cost over the $90 million) that may occur?


In light of the recent announcement by the Wareham Water District of a $2.5 million cost increase in the district's recently approved $14.5 million water treatment plant, (a cost increase attributed in a Wareham Week article to recent tariff's initiated by President Trump), can you tell us if any of the construction materials included in the new school's cost estimate, have become subject to tariffs since the cost estimate was prepared?


If yes, will there be sufficient time to make whatever changes are necessary to construction plans, construction material country of origin, and construction material suppliers in order to present a cost estimate to Fall Town Meeting that reflects whatever adjustments are necessitated by the recently enacted tariffs?

Posted by: Spherebreaker | May 29, 2018 20:14

Wespro, From the time you were asked to review the current structure till the end of this school year, did the Minot school degrade to a point to render it useless? What has rendered it useless if so. What would be the cost to construct a building that meets minimum State standards for funding with out all the bells and whistles? What would be something in the design that would be something other than a room with chairs, blackboard, pencils and books that could possibly justify the exhorbinate cost. Would it hav been possible to secure off the shelf design from a design used elsewhere or does every school need to be totally different from the next and was that suggested or asked for? Why would an existing design not work here when it is working elsewhere?Would the use of non union labor reduce this cost and by how much? If union labor has to be used would that be that they have bought many of the residents of the state house and force this? Pardon me for all the questions but you may not know that Wareham is not an affluent community and many are struggling with taxes now. I know that there will be some that d o lose their homes if this school is built

Posted by: WESProjInfo | May 30, 2018 11:35

Hello ANDREA SMITH - Yes it is safe to say that Wareham would be financially responsible for any costs in excess of $90M.  Most often the same rule applies for cost underruns, whereby the district realizes up to 100% of the savings.  One great example of this is the new Carver Elementary School which will be open this Fall and is currently trending $4M under budget.  We are closely monitoring market conditions and have been in touch with several steel fabricators, contractors and professional estimators.  At this time we are not seeing an impact to supply, demand or pricing for structural steel resulting from the tariffs.


There will be in depth value management exercises performed throughout the design process, at each of the 4 upcoming major design deliverables (SD, DD, 60% CD, 90% CD) where the SBC will re-evaluate updated estimates and be provided an opportunity to make adjustments in order to keep the project on budget.  This process and resulting decisions will occur in SBC meetings which are open to the public in order to provide full transparency throughout the process.

Posted by: WESProjInfo | May 30, 2018 12:05

Hi SPHEREBREAKER - The Minot School was invited by the MSBA into its core program, a program where only applicants with K-12 buildings in the worst condition are prioritized and offered grant opportunities.   One of the requirements of the MSBA's core program is to develop a design and ultimately construct a building which supports the district's educational vision.  Wareham's vision does include typical new school items like modern technology to prepare students for the changing world around them, but is by no means exorbitant.  The cost of construction nationwide has been increasing at unprecedented annual rates for some time now, and industry experts do not see a slow down at any point in the near future. 


To see where Wareham's proposed project costs stands in comparison to other MSBA projects, click on the 4/30/18 SBC presentation link here and scroll to slide #30 of 33.  You will see that Wareham's proposal is certainly on the modest end of the MSBA project spectrum.


There are off the shelf design options pre-approved by the MSBA, but unfortunately none for a 1020 K-4 + PREK elementary school.  To learn more about the MSBA's model school program and obtain a better understanding of why those models are not an option for Wareham, take a look at the MSBA's model school enrollment chart here:


Lastly, union labor will not be required on the project.  Although as is the case with all State funded projects in MA, regional and project specific prevailing wage rates established by DLS will be required under Massachusetts General Law.  Under the law, these wage rates are requested from DLS and provided just prior to the solicitation of bids.


We welcome your questions and the opportunity to provide answers.  We also are very well aware of the financial concerns of Wareham's residents and can assure you that the SBC will do everything within their power to provide the most economical solution available.   Thank you.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Jun 13, 2018 14:24

WESPROJINFO - By approximately what date will there be sufficient Minot project-related financial information available in order for real estate tax payers to be given a reasonably accurate projection of the cost impact upon their individual real estate tax bills?


In other words, what is it going to cost individual real estate tax payers per $1000 of their evaluation (assessment?)


And please, no quotes per "average" tax payer cost...that creates a cloud of confusion for everyone except those whose homes are actually assessed at the "average" evaluation. A cloud of tax payer confusion inevitably leads to frustration, suspicion and a question of why tax payers aren't being given a simple formula by which they can calculate the potential impact upon their real estate tax bills.

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