To the Editor:
It has been stated that the reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority for the cost of building a new school is “about 41.26 percent” of the “reimbursable” cost of the school. Not all of the costs associated with the project fall within the reimbursable category. As of now, the total school project cost is roughly $47 million, and the town’s portion is roughly $33 million. So the actual reimbursement percentage for the total project is closer to 30 percent.
Tisbury taxpayers must also factor into their own calculations the interest the town will be paying. According to preliminary “back-of-napkin” calculations by Tisbury’s finance director, John Snyder, the interest payments on a $33 million bond would be approximately $13.84 million for a 20-year bond, $17.94 million for a 25-year bond, and $22.5 million for a 30-year bond. Annual payments of principal plus interest would be about $2.97 million, $2.7 million, and $2.59 million, respectively, for the three scenarios.
Taxpayers should also be prepared for an increase in annual operating costs. The last available figure for the school’s maintenance costs as a single figure that I could find is given in the FY 2016 school budget as $465,248. The new school will be about 35 percent larger than the current school; annual operating costs can be (very roughly) predicted to increase in line with this percentage. However, maintenance of the new school’s air filtration system (windows will not open) will add a new expense. Consultants have estimated a $207,000 increase in annual operating costs.
A brief historical note: November is the month when we celebrate the service of our veterans, so it is a fitting time to note that the architect who designed the Tisbury School was a veteran. S. Wesley Haynes served as a paratrooper in Europe during the Great War, as it was then called. Writing of his service as an airman, Haynes, a Fitchburg native, recalled that after his discharge from active service, “our commanding officer called us together, and urged us to do everything we could to develop an airport in our area. So to be more prepared with airports in case of another war.” Haynes sprang into action to become the prime mover in the creation and design of the Fitchburg Airport. His account of what it took to follow through on his commanding officer’s plea, and a photograph of Haynes in his paratrooper gear, can be found at ci.fitchburg.ma.us/DocumentCenter/View/458.
After getting the airport done, Haynes apprenticed in Boston architectural firms and went on to form the partnership Haynes & Mason, designers in our neighborhood of Falmouth’s Teaticket School and Central Fire Station (both on the National Register of Historic Buildings) as well as the Tisbury School. More information on S. Wesley Haynes can be found at wikiwand.com/en/S._Wesley_Haynes.