What costs does the MSBA not cover? Should we be adding components that have been excluded by MSBA? Is it prudent to build when costs are ineligible?

In the MSBA regulations there are certain costs that are ineligible for reimbursement with grant dollars. For instance, the MSBA defines any construction cost above $360/square foot as ineligible for reimbursement, but the construction costs for the elementary schools approved by the MSBA over the past five years have averaged well over that threshold. The MSBA also limits its reimbursement participation for site work to 8% of the building construction cost. Given its unique physical characteristics, the Foster project is unusual in that it will require much more site work than all but five of the last thirty-eight elementary schools funded by the MSBA over the past five years. Only about a quarter of the required site costs for this project will be eligible for reimbursement since they exceed 8% of the building cost by a wide margin. 

This project does include a number of other ineligible cost items (e.g., the cost of technology and furnishings that exceed the reimbursable allowances for these categories), but these are consistent with every other school building project undertaken under the MSBA core building program and are appropriate to accommodate Hingham’s educational program. 

Though the school has been designed primarily to meet the needs of the educational program, it also allows for use as community space. For example, the gym includes space to accommodate bleacher seating, which is not a reimbursable expense but allows for its use by the community. SBC discussed at some length lessons learned from prior school building projects in Hingham. There have been complaints for 13 years about the shallow sideline space and limited bleacher seating available in the East Elementary gym. Providing for the additional space will better serve the intended uses by students and the larger community.

Another example of a potentially non-reimbursable cost would be the cost of the demolition of the existing school If we were able to build on a different site (which doesn’t exist), If we were to build in another location, any acquisition cost for the land would also not be reimbursable by MSBA. These would be additional non-reimbursable costs to the Hingham taxpayer in addition to the costs of the school and site development. As part of the contemplated project being pursued, the demolition of the existing Foster school will be fully reimbursable to the extent of Hingham’s approved reimbursement rate.

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1. What is the Foster School Building Project?
2. What is the Foster School Building Committee?
3. What is the MSBA?
4. What is the benefit of working with the MSBA?
5. How is our community included in this process?
6. What are the different phases of the project and how long will each phase, including construction, take?
7. What is the value of rebuilding the Foster School to people who either don’t live in the Foster district or don’t have children in the Hingham Public Schools?
8. When will the construction start and end? When would students be in the new school?
9. My child is at Foster. Will he/she need to move to a different school during construction?
10. What will happen to the athletic fields and tennis courts during construction?
11. Was a traffic study done? How will traffic be managed during construction?
12. How was the enrollment number determined? Does the new enrollment number allow for growth?
13. What is the potential base reimbursement rate from the MSBA for this project? How was the rate determined?
14. How will this new building support Hingham’s climate action planning efforts and the Town’s goal of reducing our fossil fuel use and carbon emissions?
15. I understand that Foster School is next to wetlands and in a flood zone. What will be done to mitigate the risk of flooding and protect the environmentally sensitive areas surrounding the school?
16. Is this a suitable time to build as construction costs have increased significantly since the middle school was built, and cost per square footage is far more than Public Safety building?
17. What costs does the MSBA not cover? Should we be adding components that have been excluded by MSBA? Is it prudent to build when costs are ineligible?
18. What will Foster look like compared to new elementary schools in surrounding towns? What is the square footage of new school and how does it compare to sq ft/ student at other schools in town (& MSBA
19. What additional operational costs will there be relating to the new elementary school? Is there an estimate of operational cost savings delivered by energy or other efficiencies built into the...
20. For tuition-based programming (i.e., KIA, etc.), if programming is increased, will costs be covered?
21. Would we look at redistricting the other elementary schools to ensure class sizes are comparable across the four elementary schools?
22. Will out-of-district tuition go down as a result of Special Ed programming at the new elementary school? Will additional SPED programming built into the facility enable more students to stay in...
23. Do we have to fully open at the opening of the new school or is it possible to increase over time, i.e., staffing and furniture/fixtures.
24. What process did you go through to determine the building configuration and placement on the site?
25. Is there a deeper explanation, other than inflation, of the cost estimate increase over the past 6 months even though the design is largely the same?