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The School Building Committee has completed its review of the schematic design and associated costs for the Ayer Shirley Regional High School project, and on Aug. 8, the SBC approved the schematic design and authorized the owner’s project manager to submit the design to the Massachusetts School Building Authority for its consideration.

The SBC approved a total budget for the high-school project of $56,718,141. It is estimated that the grant from MSBA for this project will be $36,833,743, meaning that the MSBA grant would cover 70 percent of all costs eligible for reimbursement, or approximately 65 percent of total project costs. (This estimate is subject to review and final approval by MSBA.) As a result, the Regional School District share (that is, the amount of debt to be incurred for the project) is estimated to be $19,884,398.

Before approving the final schematic design and budget, the SBC discussed whether to include in the project a number of “alternates” that would have added $2.2 million to both the total budget and to the district’s share. These included improvements to the athletic facility in terms of bleachers, lights, and a building for concessions and restrooms. None of these items are reimbursable by MSBA, and the BSC chose not to include them in the proposed project. The committee did, however, approve the inclusion of a storage building to replace the current storage area for outdoor equipment that will be lost when a portion of the existing school is demolished.

In the upcoming weeks, MSBA staff will review the SBC’s proposed schematic design and budget in detail, with the possibility that some changes will be required. Final project approval is anticipated at the MSBA Board meeting on Oct. 3. Once given MSBA approval, the Regional School Committee will have 120 days within which to obtain voter approval, entailing a regional vote as well as debt-exclusion votes in both Ayer and Shirley. If the project is approved by the voters, construction will likely begin next spring, with completion of the project in the summer of 2015.

With submittal of the schematic design and cost estimates, the year-long feasibility study has drawn to a close. At the conclusion of the Aug. 8 meeting, SBC chairman Murray Clark expressed the committee’s sincere appreciation to everyone who has participated in the feasibility process, with special thanks to owner’s project manager Trip Elmore of Dore & Whittier Management Partners, the design team from Symmes Maini & McKee Associates, and Consigli Construction Co., which was recently engaged as the construction-management firm for this project.

For more information, contact Murray Clark at 978-772-2768, or Carl Mock, superintendent, at 978-772-8600, ext. 1307.

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