Vote 'no' on Ayer-Shirley building fe...

Vote 'no' on Ayer-Shirley building feasibility study - Sentinel & Enterprise

There are 19 comments on the Sentinel & Enterprise story from Jan 29, 2011, titled Vote 'no' on Ayer-Shirley building feasibility study - Sentinel & Enterprise. In it, Sentinel & Enterprise reports that:

Our nascent Ayer-Shirley Regional School Committee is asking voters to approve up to three-quarters of a million dollars borrowing authority to back a feasibility study for updating facilities of the Ayer High School building.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Sentinel & Enterprise.

Old Townie

Ayer, MA

#1 Jan 30, 2011
Giving these clowns a license to SQUANDER is not going to guarantee any upgrade in "education" or anything relating to it, it will only fatten the wallets of a few "experts" and "engineers" who could do all the work needed for this project in an afternoon. VOTE NO!!
Pauline Conley

United States

#2 Jan 30, 2011
From the memo given out at the Jan 25 Tri Board mtg, the ASRSC only needs 250,000 for the study.
Bullet point 12 reads "RSC voted to authorize borrowing up to $750,000 on 11/2/10 based on our research (actual maximum borrow of $250,000 - over two towns)".
This is darn close to the $200,000 we were told was needed prior to the vote to regionalize that passed in March 2010.
The explanation for the extra $500,000 given at the Tri Board meeting was that the ASRSC did not want to have to come back to the towns for more money later.
The proposed budget just released by the governor nets the ASRSC an additional $500,000 for the coming fiscal year while the towns will both have significant cuts in their state aid if the governor's budget is approved by the legislature.
There is no sense incurring debt unnecessarily.
It seems the ASRSC will have enough funds to pay for the 250K study without borrowing should they wish to move forward with it.
Remember from the STM

Haverhill, MA

#3 Jan 30, 2011
Nice informatin Pauline. Thanks you. There is a concerted effort amongst Selectman (woman), new and Old) to derail the ASRSC. That was their intent, via admission.
Request the facts, do your homework, and beware of the mis-information from those that have a hidden agenda.
Pat Kelly

Lexington, MA

#4 Jan 30, 2011
Pauline Conley wrote:
From the memo given out at the Jan 25 Tri Board mtg, the ASRSC only needs 250,000 for the study.
Bullet point 12 reads "RSC voted to authorize borrowing up to $750,000 on 11/2/10 based on our research (actual maximum borrow of $250,000 - over two towns)".
This is darn close to the $200,000 we were told was needed prior to the vote to regionalize that passed in March 2010.
The explanation for the extra $500,000 given at the Tri Board meeting was that the ASRSC did not want to have to come back to the towns for more money later.
The proposed budget just released by the governor nets the ASRSC an additional $500,000 for the coming fiscal year while the towns will both have significant cuts in their state aid if the governor's budget is approved by the legislature.
There is no sense incurring debt unnecessarily.
It seems the ASRSC will have enough funds to pay for the 250K study without borrowing should they wish to move forward with it.
Pauline - I need to clear up some confusion in your comment. The MSBA requires that the municipality vote to support the entire cost of the study. That is the $750,000.$250,000 is the maximum actual cost to the region when all is done. This figure assumes - that the towns will move forward with the project so that MSBA will reimburse us 66.7%. If we do not move forward with the project, post study, then the reimbursement rate is 56.7%. I have seen the proposed budget and the press release around it What is not being talked about is that the Ch. 70 figure is actually cut by 2% from last year's funding. Last year Ch 70 funding was cut about 4% and then the governor released the federal job aid grant to the school to make up the difference. The total CH. 70 + federal grant budget was over $4 billion for school districts in the state. The House 1 budget proposal is talking about a record figure for Ch 70 funding, but now that the federal grants are not available, in reality the $3.9 billion in the budget is actually a 2% cut in Ch. 70 funding. I agree that there is no need to incur debt unnecessarily - but we don't have room in our budget to cover this.
Pat Kelly

Lexington, MA

#5 Jan 30, 2011
Mr. Maxant is trying to make a point about control and not quality education.
* The school committee openly admitted that we did not know how much an MSBA feasibility study should cost. So we did the research. We reviewed detailed budgetary information from multiple school renovation and addition renovation projects conducted over the past couple years or currently in progress. It was after this extensive research that we projected the figure of $750,000 to cover the feasibility study. The projected cost of the Project Manager is in line with the data we reviewed. I am not sure what anyone knows - but after reviewing actual data from actual projects this figure is in line.
*Mr. Maxant's claims that "designer time" need not be more than $62,500 nor take more than 3 months. He is comparing apples to oranges. The schematic design that will be produced is not simple and architectural rendering of what we, as the committee, think that we need. MSBA requires, and in my opinion correctly, that we undertake and thorough review of the facility not only from a structural and system efficiency standpoint but also from an educational standpoint. So that when the project plans are designed it has the functioning of the facility and the educational benefits it provides to students as its objective. Mr. Maxant incorrectly frames this as "studying every educational possibility." The projected time frame for the feasibility study is 12-14 months because it involves much more than drawing up the design for a science and technology wing. The entire facility requires renovation and needs to be reviewed along with the educational purpose of every space in the facility.
* With regard to site testing, again Mr. Maxant makes an incorrect comparison again simply to support his argument. Is a school constructed in the 1960's and an empty swamp the same? We have spoken in public meeting that it is possible the testing will not cost this much, but until it happens we will not know and we were concerned about wasting taxpayer time and money by having to come back to the towns for additional funds if we came up short by underestimating. Mr. Maxant's "bottom line" is calculated from a conversation with an architect that does not work with MSBA and on a project that is not MSBA or school related. The figures that are before the town now and which will be voted on February 5th are based on dozens of conversation with MSBA - a preliminary site visit by MSBA and diligent research of similar projects with similar sized schools in the past 2 years.
* So let's address "...another reason not to approve this borrowing..." Mr. Maxant is right about 120 days. The reason for this is that there are hundreds of schools and school districts that want to work with MSBA. It is irresponsible to not work with MSBA. So they are interested in working with towns that are serious about improving their facility and providing a building that supports education and does not hinder it. Mr. Maxant then tries to scare citizens by talking about borrowing $30 million for the project. Once again let's look at the reality. If the project is a $30 million project then MSBA would reimburse the two towns at least 66.7%. That leaves about $10 million for the two towns to finance, which based on today's formula would mean about $5.5 million for Ayer and $4.5 million for Shirley. This would be a debt exclusion paid out over a 20 or 30 year period. Each town would individually fund less than 20% of the total cost of the renovated school.
* Finally, when has thorough study and preparation lead to fiscal irresponsibility? The fact of the matter is that this is the most responsible thing we can do as a district; for our school, for our staff, for our students and for our tax paying citizens. Mr. Maxant is not serious about quality education; he is serious about maintaining control and trying to frighten citizens in order to maintain it.

Pat Kelly
Ayer Shirley Regional School Committee
Vice-Chair
Cheryl

Ayer, MA

#6 Jan 30, 2011
Pat Kelly wrote:
<quoted text>
Pauline - I need to clear up some confusion in your comment. The MSBA requires that the municipality vote to support the entire cost of the study. That is the $750,000.$250,000 is the maximum actual cost to the region when all is done. This figure assumes - that the towns will move forward with the project so that MSBA will reimburse us 66.7%. If we do not move forward with the project, post study, then the reimbursement rate is 56.7%. I have seen the proposed budget and the press release around it What is not being talked about is that the Ch. 70 figure is actually cut by 2% from last year's funding. Last year Ch 70 funding was cut about 4% and then the governor released the federal job aid grant to the school to make up the difference. The total CH. 70 + federal grant budget was over $4 billion for school districts in the state. The House 1 budget proposal is talking about a record figure for Ch 70 funding, but now that the federal grants are not available, in reality the $3.9 billion in the budget is actually a 2% cut in Ch. 70 funding. I agree that there is no need to incur debt unnecessarily - but we don't have room in our budget to cover this.
May I add that the recent news re: the Goveror's budget proposal is a "House 1" proposal. Both the House and the Senate will also propose budgets. House 1 is the first step in a long journey to the 2012 state budget that doesn't become effective until 7/1/11. A lot can happen to the state budget before then, which will affect our local budgets. In the mean time, we still have a MHS building living on borrowed time. There is a required process to move towards the building project, which we won't know the details of until the required feasibility study is completed. Anyone who is able to attend the public forum at the HS on Monday should attend. If not, please get in touch with Pat Kelly or others on the committee to get your questions answered. Thanks!
Pauline Conley

United States

#7 Jan 30, 2011
Pat Kelly wrote:
<quoted text>
Pauline - I need to clear up some confusion in your comment. The MSBA requires that the municipality vote to support the entire cost of the study. That is the $750,000.$250,000 is the maximum actual cost to the region when all is done.
Pat,
That is not what is stated in the memo George Frost distributed at the TriBoard mtg.
#s calculated by the FinCom at the mtg suggested that
'if' MSBA reimbursed at the promised 66% rate the actual cost to the towns would be approx 138K for Ayer and 145K for Shirley. Those #s are closer to 300K than 250K.
A 50K difference at a time when the Town of Ayer is already looking at a 200K+ deficit to balance its FY12 budget is troublesome.
I don't imagine Shirley is in a better position.
Additionally, there can be a lot of 'ifs' involved when dealing w/MSBA. It took years to obtain the last reimbursement they owed the Town of Ayer.
shirley citizen

Ipswich, MA

#8 Jan 30, 2011
I don't understand why one would not vote to go forward with the feasibility study. I believe that it is clearly in the best interest of both towns to clarify the future costs/path forward for the schools to be able to most efficiently plan for the future. The issues with the current school facilities will not be going away just because they are ignored. They will continue to cost the taxpayers money for short term repairs. This money would be much better spent on a long term solution. If you take into account that the majority of the funding for the study will be coming from the MSBA, why not proceed with the study now to see exactly what we're facing? I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The longer we continue to put off and turn a blind eye to the issues with the school facilities, the more it will cost us in the long run. Let's be proactive and find out the solutions now so we can plan according for the future. It is not only in the best interest of the kids of our community, it is also in the town's best interest.
another shirley citizen

Ipswich, MA

#9 Jan 31, 2011
shirley citizen wrote:
I don't understand why one would not vote to go forward with the feasibility study. I believe that it is clearly in the best interest of both towns to clarify the future costs/path forward for the schools to be able to most efficiently plan for the future. The issues with the current school facilities will not be going away just because they are ignored. They will continue to cost the taxpayers money for short term repairs. This money would be much better spent on a long term solution. If you take into account that the majority of the funding for the study will be coming from the MSBA, why not proceed with the study now to see exactly what we're facing? I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The longer we continue to put off and turn a blind eye to the issues with the school facilities, the more it will cost us in the long run. Let's be proactive and find out the solutions now so we can plan according for the future. It is not only in the best interest of the kids of our community, it is also in the town's best interest.
AGREED - We all pay taxes to fund MSBA --- It's about time we were on the recieving end of some of OUR money. Let's get the maximum refund for something that we will have to do regardless of what happens.
the good thing is

Leominster, MA

#10 Jan 31, 2011
no one reads these blogs. But they do reasd the paper VOTE NO
NowWhat

New Haven, CT

#11 Feb 5, 2011
Now that the vote failed, what do the towns have to pay to fix the existing schools without reimbursement from MSBA?
Concerned Citizen

Leominster, MA

#12 Feb 5, 2011
we get to take on the full burden of putting bandaids on the crap we have and continue to allow property values to fall because no one will move here.
Concerned Citizen

Leominster, MA

#13 Feb 5, 2011
and then pay for the inevitable
boo hoo

Leominster, MA

#14 Feb 6, 2011
What the Region needs to do is as follows, or else they will never win;

1. Try being straight with people, DO NOT continue to lie, and twist figures and be so arrogant, I realize they cannot help it!

2. They were/are NOT in danger of loosing accreditation, READ the report, it simply states more equipment is need in the science labs, It NEVER says build a new or renovate the existing.

3. When you KNOW a study is only good for 120 days for completion, STATE it! Reid and Frost, are "supposed to be genius's" tell the truth!

4. Shirley IS paying and will continue to pay until 2026, on the mortgage for OUR new Middle School, Have AYER renovate or build new on their own and then come back and talk.

5. Stop spending the R/M budget for the schools in Ayer for TEACHERS perpetual raises and Repair and Maintain the existing facilities.

6. Stop using LAW as the big scare, Shirley Citizens are not buying it anymore period!

7. Stop whining about property values decreasing because of no new building, it's a lie and a RED Herring since the inception of School Choice, you can live ANYWHERE and send your Children ANYWHERE. 87% of the people want other service like police and fire, when they move into a town. You can't "choice" other essential services
13% of Shirley residents either have school age children or derive income from the school system!13% will never win an election.

8. Get a legit firm into the Middle-High school, do a legitimate set of plans and the required work, to ONLY renovate the science labs, can get this done for LESS then 250K. Then come to the voters and say for 3-4 million we do blah, blah, blah, and be done with it.

You are not getting a new building, you are not getting a 34-39 million dollar "renovation" period! And if you do not care about others, only YOUR child or YOUR wallet, Newton has a 200 million dollar school, MOVE there and pay those taxes.
Concerned Citizen

Leominster, MA

#15 Feb 6, 2011
You are out of touch if you think School of Choice is a good answer. The amount of choice out should tell you what your attitude has done here. You also can't live ANYWHERE and send your children ANYWHERE. I think 100% of the people want the public safety services. For the town the top priority should always be Public Safety. Good thing we have the renovated senior center though for all those that use it, I think that comes out of my wallet too.
Good News

Wellesley, MA

#16 Feb 6, 2011
This vote is good news. Why do we pay big $$$ for administrators that don't know the buildings they are responsible for? I don't expect them to be experts but they have others working around them that should be able to put together a review of the facilities and needs. I know I risk of over simplification but as a homeowner I know if my roof or heating system needs replacement. If I am not sure I call several contractors and get a review and estimates. Also I don't understand why the school boards don't know how many classrooms are needed. Again, why are we paying so much for these people who in the end have to hire others to do their jobs?
boo-hoo

Leominster, MA

#17 Feb 7, 2011
Concerned Citizen wrote:
You are out of touch if you think School of Choice is a good answer. The amount of choice out should tell you what your attitude has done here. You also can't live ANYWHERE and send your children ANYWHERE. I think 100% of the people want the public safety services. For the town the top priority should always be Public Safety. Good thing we have the renovated senior center though for all those that use it, I think that comes out of my wallet too.
As usual mis-statements to win your arguement. I never said School Choice was a good answer or any type answer, it is a fact and a law passed by a Democrat conrolled government, get used to it. School Choice is exactly what's wrong. People do not choice out because of a building you silly person, WE HAVE a new middle school, do your homework, compare choice out numbers from LAW versus choice out from the "New Middle School" if you cared to support any arguement you will look those up and be amazed!
And you are absolutely wrong a parent can absolutely choice thier children to ANY school in Massachusetts, providing THAT school accepts choice in students, period.

And you did not pay one dime for the Senior Center in taxes, not one dime. You are now, as you probably did not attend ATM, where 13K was approved in an override to support the fuel to heat the bldg.

The Shirley School consumes over 60% of this towns budget, so 60 cents or more of every dollar goes to the school at the expense of the rest of town operations. Next time you need help, call a teacher!

And as the last person said be straight with people and the school may get something, 5 people in the administration each making over 100K a year, two supers making over 125K and they cannot figure out what's needed. Heres an idea CAN all of them and replace them with different hacks that can determine what the schools needs
Shirley Native

Wellesley, MA

#18 Feb 7, 2011
As long as Prescott is on the ASRSC that committee can never be trusted to give accurate information. Why can't the people in Shirley see through his lies and deception. Until they do and vote him out they will continue to get lies and deception. The Town of Shirley did a great thing when they voted Jim Quinty to the ASRSC but nullified it by electing Prescott.
A Voter

Westford, MA

#19 Feb 7, 2011
I learned a long time ago how simple it all can be. Simply vote against Mary Spinner, her gang of criminals (Read: her selectman sweetie at the post office,don't ask don't tell!) et al, and everything will turn out just fine.

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