Even as the stock market fell, the state's School Building Authority this week confronted a stomach-churning decision on the fate of the Wellesley High School project: yes or no.
The authority approved the project Monday, casting aside fears of a nationwide credit crunch. The approval sends the project to the next step in the long process -- a town meeting later this month to consider Wellesley's share of the cost.
The price tag currently stands at $135.6 million including $110-million in construction costs. The school building authority voted to reimburse $44 million -- or 44 percent -- of the $110 million construction cost cap. Read more here and here.
Katherine Craven, the executive director of the authority, said the costs were “in line” with the kinds of bids for similar projects in other municipalities, and state Treasurer Timothy Cahill noted that the agency had vigorously vetted the Wellesley project and costs.
The economic turmoil is "a real issue,” he said, “and we're pushing back on real dollars to get these schools built for a reasonable cost." If the credit industry does dry up dramatically, he said, some communities may have to look at doing repairs and renovations to get by for 10 years. But considering the condition of Wellesley's current 70-year-old high school building, said Cahill, "there is not an option to do nothing."
“Instead of making costly repairs and then paying more in ten years for a high school, because of increased construction costs, the MSBA and Wellesley will save money by working to create a cost-effective and educationally appropriate new high school today,” said Cahill, who chairs the school building authority.
Katherine Babson, a Wellesley selectman and chair of the town’s School Building Committee, expressed optimism about gaining approval from both town meeting and voters.
“Everything’s in line for the project to go forward,” said Babson. “I very much appreciated the positive comments that Treasurer Cahill made about the project and the review that the MSBA took at looking at and analyzing it. He clearly supported the direction that the School Building Committee has taken and we’re moving forward.”
-- Lisa Keen