AYER/SHIRLEY –The feasibility study is underway for the Ayer-Shirley Regional School District’s first major building project, a proposed top to bottom renovation of the existing high school building in Ayer to make it the new region’s middle and high school.
Plans may incorporate exterior as well as interior upgrades. Depending on educational and structural needs, they may also call for adding a new wing or replacing an old one. But whatever the final big picture looks like, the ASRSD Building Committee has an ambitious agenda ahead that includes public outreach.
With the project proposal expected to come before voters next year, the committee plans to meet weekly until June and on Feb. 9 will host its first information session since the study launched.
At its Jan. 19 meeting, the agenda centered on updates from the architects in the early stages of the study, including items on the first-phase checklist: Hazardous materials assessment, topographical surveys, geoenvironmental data analysis and traffic studies.
Sitting in for Building Committee Chairman Scott Simmons, acting Chairman Mitchell Khan reported that consultants have been hired for each of the four jobs and in most instances the deals Project Manager Trip Elmore negotiated came in under budget.
The hazmat assessment, for example. With $25,000 budgeted, the consultant’s proposal for the job is $16,000. There were similar savings for other items. Although unexpected costs could arise, the only significant scale-tipper on the other end of the balance sheet so far was the traffic study, which was $5,000 over the targeted figure. But the net result was positive. The total line item for consulting services is under budget to date.
The committee voted unanimously to amend each line item up or down as necessary.
The group also discussed wish lists generated in meetings with staff, students and parents and proposed holding a public information session soon.
They settled on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m., following the committee’s regular weekly meeting, which was reset to 6 p.m. The meeting was held at the Ayer-Shirley Middle School, Hospital Road, Shirley.
Since the aim is to garner input as well as present an overview of project work to date, there was some concern that the education program might already be mapped out by then. Apparently, however, only “formulaic” pieces are being penciled in now. Space allocations will be “negotiated” as the project moves forward, according to the architect team, which includes an educational program expert whose job description includes ensuring that spaces are designed to fit programs, not the other way around.
For the upcoming public meeting, the committee particularly wants to draw in people interested in the educational program the building project will be built around, said member and ASRSC School Committee Chairman Pat Kelly.
At points along the way, schematic design plans are subject to approval by MSBA, the state agency that has already accepted the school building project conceptually, having agreed to provide reimbursement funding for more than half of project costs.