1.) Why do we need a new High School?
Wakefield Memorial High School (“WMHS”) was originally built as a Junior High School in 1960. In 1972, the Junior High was converted into the current WMHS through the construction of major additions to the north and south of the school. Since then, except for some relatively small improvements and modifications made toward meeting the accreditation requirements, the High School has remained virtually untouched.
In 2016 a comprehensive facilities assessment was completed and presented to the Wakefield Permanent Building Committee. The study highlighted numerous physical building challenges, the most significant being related to the buildings envelope and lack of thermal insulation in the exterior walls, poor ventilation and air quality of the mechanical systems, outdated electrical and fire alarm systems, insufficient plumbing and large sections of the building that are not ADA/MAAB compliant.
The facilities assessment also highlighted programmatic constraints that hamper the High School’s ability to provide a learning environment consistent with the District’s Educational Program. There are educational program deficiencies and challenges within the building related to overcrowding, spatial provisions, configurations and adjacencies which limit the rational and functional relationship of programs within the building. Likewise, the absence of some key types of educational and support spaces exacerbates the educational challenges faced.
The District is also faced with an ongoing situation regarding accreditation of the High School. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC”) concurred with the facilities assessment regarding overcrowding and inadequate spaces within of facilities necessary to meet today’s curriculum. The District was put in notice in October 2011 that these conditions must be improved. As of March 2019, the High School has been notified by NEASC that the accreditation status has been changed from “warning” to “probation”.
2.) What Site and Building Alternatives were considered for the new High School?
- Cost Upgrade – $178 Million – Not likely to be reimbursed by MSBA – Does not address any education defiencies in the current High School.
- Addition/Renovation – $272 Million
- New Construction (Option 3B) – $273 Million – Preferred Option approved by the Perminent Building Committee.
3.) Where will the new school be located?
The new school will be located on the existing Beasley Oval and a new field and track will be constructed in front of the new school in the location of the existing school.
(Please check back periodically for updated designs as early, prelimenary plans are subject to change as the design process continues)
4.) What does the new school look like? - Option 3B
Renderings and a massing model of the design of the new school is posted to the Project’s website.
5.) What does the new school include?
The new school will include all academic and academic support spaces required to meet and fulfill the educational plan developed by the District. Floor Plans and a Space Summary of the spaces within the school are posted on the Project’s website. The project also includes full site development and a new Beasley Field and track.
6.) When will the new high school be completed?
The new school is planned to open in January 2027 in time for the new school year and December 2027 completion is planned for the new fields and remainder of the site. The Project Team will look for ways to accelerate the project schedule.
7.) What is the capacity of the new school?
The design enrollment for the new school is 1,000 students.
8.) Will the new school accommodate growth in student population?
9.) How did the proposed school design come to be?
The proposed design was the culmination of many educational visioning sessions and resulting design options that were developed and presented by SMMA. The defining goals were to provide a central core, or “heart of the school” from which the academic and auxiliary spaces could be built from. The academic spaces are grouped to one side of the central core with good flow and circulation between spaces and close proximity to teacher planning and support spaces. The media center is also located close to the academic spaces and spanning over the central core engaging with this active space. Athletic programs, theater and music spaces also branch off the central core to the side opposite the academic wing.
10.) Why does the plan go above and beyond MSBA recommendations?
The plan exceeds the MSBA guidelines to ensure that the number of classrooms required to maintain the current student-teacher ratio and to meet Wakefield’s educational plan are provided. In addition, all the athletic programs are provided with, at minimum, the same space sizes as currently exist. Additionally, the music program, gymnastics, Color Guard, Governor Volpe Archive, District Offices and WCAT all require space above or outside the MSBA guidelines.
11.) Will the new school be a green/sustainable building?
12.) What is the maintenance plan for the proposed school?
As part of the Preferred Schematic Report, the District planned in their Budget Analysis for the cost of maintenance and staffing of the new school and will build these costs into the District’s budget. This will allow the Facility’s Maintenance Plan to be maintained as required for the size and scope of the new school.
13.) What does the project cost?
Currently, the project total project costs are $273 million. The MSBA’s maximum grant to the town will be approx. $65 Million which leads to a maximum town share of approx. $208 Million. There are ways that the town share can be reduced further. For example, The Project Team publicly stated at the December 15th Public Forum that the project would under take VE (Value Engineering: a method of removing/reducing scope to reduce the overall project budget) in the next Design Phase: Design Development
14.) What is the MSBA?
MSBA is an independent public authority that administers and funds a program for grants to eligible cities, towns, and regional school districts for school construction and renovation projects. The MSBA’s grant program for school building construction and renovation projects is a non-entitlement competitive program. All projects eligible for funding must comply with MSBA’s process and standards. MSBA Mission: Partner with Massachusetts communities to support the design and construction of educationally appropriate, flexible, sustainable, and cost-effective public-school facilities.
Link to MSBA: https://www.massschoolbuildings.org/
15.) What is an ineligible cost?
Ineligible costs are costs that exceed MSBA Space Guidelines, MSBA cost caps and MSBA’s policies. Refer to the Cost Matrix that outlines the ineligible costs for the new high school and the reason for the ineligibility.
16.) How will the new school be funded?
It is anticipated that funding will be by Debt Exclusion which would require a referendum election, after the Town Meeting vote, where the registered voters would be asked to exempt the amount of the Town’s borrowing from the limits of Proposition 2 and ½.
17.) What is a Proposition 2 ½ Debt Exclusion?
Proposition 2 ½ refers to a Massachusetts General Law enacted in 1980 that places strict limits on the amount of property tax revenue a community can raise through real and personal property taxes. A debt exclusion is for the purpose of raising funds for debt service costs and is referred to as a debt exclusion. Debt exclusions require voter approval. The additional amount for the payment of debt service is added to the tax levy limit or levy ceiling for the life of the debt only.
The WMHS Debt Service Comparison file below outlines the initial tax payment (schedule) by assessed home value on page 3.
18.) What will be my increase in property tax?
The tax calculators provide an average tax impact for years 2029-2046 based on a 4.25% and a 5.5% bond rate. The bond rate will not be confirmed until time of bonding. The tax increase for the school will start in 2024 at a rate of $0.03/$100,000 and ramp up gradually on a yearly basis to the average tax impact starting in 2029 through 2046 and after will ramp down gradually to the final year at a rate of $0.10-$0.12/$100,000.
The WMHS Debt Service Comparison file below outlines the initial tax payment (schedule) by assessed home value on pages 1-2.
Enter assessed value of property below:
4.25% rate in the year 2029
Enter assessed value of property below:
5.5% rate in the year 2029
*Note: Please refer to explanation in Question 18 above for full context
19.) What about Seniors and folks on fixed incomes?
20.) What other debt exclusions is the town currently carrying and when do they expire?
The Preferred Schematic Report provides a list of the Town’s current Debt Service and indicates the expiration dates.
21.) What is Design Development?
The main purpose of the design development phase is for the Architect to define and develop all aspects of the project including the exterior and interior materials that will be utilized in the Final Construction Contract Documents for the Project. Engineers, under direction from the Architect, also contribute to defining and developing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, plumbing systems, electrical systems, and other miscellaneous systems required for construction of the New School Building.
(Links to View/Download Design Materials can be found under the Design Tab)
21.) What are Construction Documents?
The main purpose of Construction Documents is the consolidation of the Uniform General and Supplementary Conditions; Owner’s Special Conditions and Specifications; and the Drawings, Specifications, details, Change Orders and other documents prepared by Architects/Engineers, their consultants, and by Owner’s consultants that describe the scope and quality of the Project with the materials, supplies, equipment, systems, and other elements that are required for construction of the Project that are accepted by Owner. Construction Documents provide the contractual relationship between Owner/Designer and the individual contractor constructing the project.
(Links to View/Download Design Materials can be found under the Design Tab)
22.) What is required by the town to fund the project?
23.) When will construction begin?
It is anticipated that construction will begin in April 2024 with some minor enabling work will occur at the end of 2023/beginning of 2024.
24.) Who are the parties involved in the High School Project?
Wakefield Permanent Building Committee/Wakefield School Building Committee (PBC/SBC”)
The Wakefield Permanent Building Committee (“PBC”) oversees all projects for design, construction, reconstruction, renovation, alteration, or enlargement of any building owned by the Town, or undertaken on land owned or leased by the Town of Wakefield.
The PBC has the sole authority to procure engineering and architectural services, award bids for construction, enter into contracts on behalf of the Town with respect to matters within its authority, and administer such contracts in accordance with applicable law.
The Wakefield High School Building Committee (“SBC”) is made up of the Wakefield Permanent Building Committee together with the Wakefield High School Advisory Committee which consists of Town and School employees/officials and members of the Community for the purpose of generally monitoring the MSBA Application process and to advise the Town of Wakefield during the construction of the Project.
Massachusetts School Building Committee (“MSBA”)
The Massachusetts School Building Authority (“MSBA”) is a quasi-independent government authority created to reform the process of funding capital improvement projects in the Commonwealth’s public schools. The MSBA strives to work with local communities to create affordable, sustainable, and energy efficient schools across Massachusetts.
The MSBA’s grant program for school building construction and renovation projects is a non-entitlement competitive program. The MSBA’s Board of Directors approves grants based on need and urgency as expressed by the City, Town, Regional School District or independent agricultural and technical school and validated by the MSBA.
LeftField – Owners Project Manager (“OPM”)
LeftField is an Owner’s Representative and Project Management firm, established in 2007. We specialize in owners project management services and have significant experience in the public sector, working with municipalities and building authorities. Leftfield’s staff has managed over $1.5 billion in MSBA-funded projects since MSBA’s inception in 2004. As Owners Project Managers, we work in conjunction with the Owner serving as an extension of their staff. Our primary role is to protect the Owner’s interests, to ensure that the Owner is well-served and that the established goals and objectives are met in the most efficient manner, physically and fiscally.
Designer – SMMA
Since 1955, SMMA has forged extraordinary relationships with clients, established an enviable record of success, and designed award-winning environments. From our two locations in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island, we are an employee-owned firm specializing in architecture, engineering, interior design, and site design.
Within each of our areas of practice we seek to lead, inspire, and deliver design excellence. For the last three decades, SMMA has designed/is currently designing 70 K-12 schools. For each school, we create learning environments for the next generation while also making the facilities resources for the communities. Our other markets of expertise include Corporate & Commercial, Federal Government, Higher Education, and Science & Technology. We are thought leaders in the markets we serve, putting processes in place for continuous improvement, knowledge sharing, and project management.
Construction Manager – Bond Construction
Founded in 1907, BOND’s business model is driven by client focus and the firm’s values: integrity, respect, and trust. As a 5th generation company, BOND offers a wide range of services: preconstruction assistance, construction management, general contracting, and civil and utilities services. BOND Building customizes each construction program by working closely with clients to accommodate their culture and daily activities and to proactively minimize disruption and avoid surprises. We produce high-quality construction on time and on budget, creating customer satisfaction and building ongoing client relationships. BOND routinely manages the safe and orderly operation of significant construction projects in the midst of active campuses, and on occupied and constrained sites. Safety is always BOND’s first priority. BOND maintains a low EMR of .79.
25.) What is the Wakefield Memorial High School Project?
In April, 2019, the Town of Wakefield submitted a Statement of Interest to the MSBA for Wakefield Memorial High School. The Statement of Interest was the first step in partnering with the MSBA for a potential new Wakefield Memorial High School. In December 2019 the MSBA invited the Town to enter into the Eligibility Period which required the Town to provide certain documentation necessary meet the MSBA requirements to proceed into the MSBA Core Program and conduct a Feasibility Study. Having fulfilled the requirements, in December 2020 the MSBA Board formally issued an invitation to the Town to conduct a feasibility study.
During the Feasibility Study, the Town and its team will collaborate with the MSBA to document existing conditions, generate an initial space summary based on the School Department’s educational program, establish design parameters, develop and evaluate preliminary and final design alternatives, and recommend the most cost effective and educationally appropriate solution for a new High School.
The Feasibility Study is a requirement under of the MSBA’s multi-step approval process in order to qualify for state funded reimbursement for a potential future building project.
26.) What is the MSBA process?
The MSBA has developed eight distinct modules that are intended to provide a guide to the procedures and approvals needed for the MSBA and the District to work together in a collaborative manner.
The “Program Overview” and listing of eight modules can be viewed here:
27.) Who can I contact if I have any questions?
Email the project team at email@example.com