Tough decisions for school project

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To the Editor:

We would like to update everyone on the ongoing activities with the Tisbury School renovation and addition project. If you have driven by the Tisbury School recently, you can see we have visible site construction activity on the grounds. The property at 55 West William Street is occupied by the construction management company, WT Rich. This will be their headquarters for the duration of the school project. The East playground has been prepped and modular classroom units have started to arrive which will serve as our temporary school village during construction.

During the last week of April, the building committee had a difficult decision and recommendation to make. The design team had reached 60% completion of the construction drawings and alerted us to a projected 20% budget increase for the project. The impacts of the pandemic, subsequent supply chain challenges, and rising inflation have impacted the projected construction cost of the project. The committee worked with the professional teams to review options to reduce the cost of the overrun. Our goal is to deliver a project that meets the educational needs of the students of Tisbury while minimizing the impact of the overrun on taxpayers. After much deliberation and multiple meetings, we were presented with an option that offered the best opportunity for us to achieve our goals. This option allows us to maintain the new ground-level ADA gymnasium, cafeteria, a full hazmat abatement, and maintains the other critical spaces that are needed to meet the educational needs of our students. This option allows us to get the project out to bid on schedule without the need for major redesigns that would set the timeline back and cause an even greater increase in the budget. The team was able to identify ways to reduce an approximate $10 million dollar overrun to an approximate $3 million dollar overrun and keep the project on schedule. As considered at recent public meetings of the school committee, select board, and finance and advisory committee, the option chosen was determined to be the best strategy to mitigate cost escalation by bidding and securing a guaranteed fixed price without delay.

We anticipate that it will be necessary for the overrun to come before the voters at a special town meeting. It will be for items that can be purchased later in the project including windows and brickwork.

Purchasing these items at a later date allows the project to go out to bid on schedule. The Tisbury School Building Committee, the Tisbury School Committee, and the town will continue to work together to secure grants, donations, and other options toward the goal of lessening the cost of this project to the town.

This incredibly difficult decision is what the committee feels is the most fiscally responsible for the town. We would like to thank the architects and construction managers for helping us arrive at a place where we do not need to stall the project but most of all we would like to thank the members of our community for their continued support of the Tisbury School.

If you are interested to learn more about the scope of the project, please join us at one of our public information sessions. Please visit tisbury-school-project.com for more information.

 

Rita Jeffers, Vice-Chair of The Tisbury School Building Committee and

communications working group member

Sarah York, member of The Tisbury School Building Committee

communications working group and the Tisbury Finance and Advisory Committee