By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – The Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen voted to call a Special Town Election to consider a debt exclusion for the new Beal School building which will coincide with the State General Election Tuesday, Nov. 6. The board also approved to exclude the debt service requirements from the Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion from the ballot question.
Additionally, they set Thursday, Sept. 6, as the deadline for persons to be identified to provide written arguments from the principle proponent(s) and opponent(s) and Monday, Sept. 24, as the date that written arguments are due. If no interested parties step forward, Town Council will be designated as the writer.
Selectman Jim Kane welcomed members of the Beal Building Committee and introduced architects Katie Crockett and Sean Brennan from Lamoureux Pagano who provided an update on the status of the project which began over a year ago.
Crocket reported that the feasibility study was completed in February, resulting is a preliminary design program. Lamoureux Pagano will be submitting a more detailed schematic design to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in September and a decision is expected by the end of October. Meanwhile, Town Meeting will vote on the debt exclusion on Monday, Oct. 22, before proceeding to the Town Ballot Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Since the project began, the Shrewsbury School Department assessed the need of the educational program. A building that would accommodate 790 students with 40 classrooms in a K-4 Elementary School setting was recommended.
Should the project pass Nov. 6, it will proceed to further design that will be ready by next September. Construction will then begin and expected occupancy of the building in the fall of 2021.
“One really important component that was done in the early tier of the MSBA items was the schools and the town worked with the MSBA to determine what the appropriate enrollment project was for this school to address the needs of the town,” Crockett said.
The need for inclusion of full-time kindergarten in all the elementary schools was addressed. There is an expectation that all of the K-4 schools will have full-day kindergarten by 2021 with dedicated spaces for art, music and special education.
The original schematic square footage for the project came in at 151,484 square feet. Through refinements and efficiencies, it has been reduced by 9,885 square feet to 141,600. The reduction in square footage affects the total cost of the project which, at the time of the board meeting, was listed as $92,831,833. The town’s share would be $59,337,463 and the MSBA’s share is 36.08 percent.
Selectman Beth Casavant said that she is really excited about the potential of this project and thanked the architects for their presentation.
Town Manager Kevin Mizikar gave an overview of the funding for the project. He presented a borrowing and debt service analysis as well as various models.
“The way we structure this debt will really play out on how much it impacts the tax rate on an annual basis and how much interest we pay out over its course,” he said.