Archive for category FAQs
What is the Policy Statement regarding the impact on MSBA funding if a City, Town or Regional School District fails to vote to appropriate funding for the proposed project as defined in the Project Scope and Budget Agreement, within the deadlines established by the MSBA?
The Project Scope and Budget Agreement, as approved by the MSBA’s Board of Directors, defines the scope, cost and schedule of the agreed upon proposed project, and any variances from this Agreement require the written approval of the MSBA and may require an additional Board vote. Pursuant to the MSBA’s regulations, a city, town or regional school district that has been approved by the Board for a proposed project has 120 days from the date of the Board’s approval to obtain and certify local approval of an appropriation to fully fund the proposed project and all other local votes or approvals showing acceptance of the cost, site, type, scope and timeline for the proposed project.
The MSBA appreciates the challenges that school districts face, but the MSBA’s regulations specifically include this 120-day deadline for a local appropriation to ensure that the MSBA’s capital program funds are targeted toward projects and school districts that are ready and able to make the financial commitment and move forward in a timely manner. Given the overwhelming capital needs of school districts across the Commonwealth and the MSBA’s limited capital program funds, the MSBA cannot indefinitely tie up funds allocated for a project that lacks local support.
In the event that a school district fails to approve funding for a proposed project within the 120-day deadline, by no later than 10 business days following the failed vote, the school district must submit to the MSBA a plan that: (1) presents the vote results, (2) explains the school district’s understanding of the reason(s) for the failed vote, and (3) sets forth the school district’s plan to remedy the failed vote and a suggested timeline for such a remedy. The MSBA will review the plan and determine whether it can continue to set aside MSBA funds for the proposed project. However, a failed local vote likely will result in the school district being required to submit a new Statement of Interest to the MSBA and await a second invitation from the MSBA to enter the feasibility study phase of the MSBA’s process. (From MSBA web site – www.massschoolbuilding.org)
There are two votes required from both Adams and Cheshire to approve the project. The first vote is a warrant article to approve the building project that is voted on by the town meeting of each town. The second vote is an exclusion vote.
Proposition 2-1/2 allows a community to raise funds for certain purposes above the amount of its levy limit or levy ceiling. A community can assess taxes in excess of its levy limit or levy ceiling for the payment of certain capital projects and for the payment of specified debt service costs. An exclusion for the purpose of raising funds for debt service costs is referred to as a debt exclusion, and an exclusion for the purpose of raising funds for capital project costs is referred to as a capital outlay expenditure exclusion.
The additional amount for the payment of debt service is added to the levy limit or levy ceiling for the life of the debt only. The additional amount for the payment of the capital project cost is added to the levy limit or levy ceiling only for the year in which the project is being undertaken. Unlike overrides, exclusions do not become part of the base upon which the levy limit is calculated for future years.
Reimbursements such as state reimbursements for school building construction are subtracted from the amount of the exclusion. Voter approval is required for the exclusion. (From state website: http://www.mass.gov – Department of Revenue)
After an extensive study by architects and a project manager working with the building committee, this project will most appropriately serve the projected enrollment of the district. It is also the most cost effective in terms of construction and operation from taxpayers. The project will permanently consolidate education facilities from four buildings to three. The current school building used for the middle school – Adams Memorial Middle School, built in 1952 – is in dire need of repair. Moving the middle school students (grades 6-8) into part of the High School building, with a small addition, will give them a separate program under the same roof, with first class facilities. For the high school students- grades 9-12- a thoroughly modernized and slightly expanded Hoosac Valley High School will provide students to both towns a state of the art academic facility for over half (7 years) of their education in the district. The project also addresses the on-going overcrowding at C.T. Plunkett Elementary and provides a consistent Pre-K–5 program in both elementary schools of the district.
Finally, it will reduce future operating costs of the district related to maintenance and capital outlay.
Can the school district present multiple project proposals to the towns to seek a vote to provide local appropriation to fund the project?
For a school district to be eligible to receive funds from the state to support a project they must follow the rules and regulations set forth by the Massachusetts Building Authority (MSBA). The feasibility study requires the building committee to look at all options to address the needs of the building identified by the MSBA. The building committee is then required to meet with MSBA to explain why options were not considered and why one preferred option is being recommended as a plan for review and approval. The plan, developed through the feasibility study and approved by the MSBA will be presented to the towns as a proposed project as defined in the project scope and budget agreement, within the deadline established by the MSBA.
In addition to the need for upgraded educational facilities, Adams and Cheshire have also suffered from a long-term lack of growth. Population loss and a reduction in the percentage of residents whom are property owners have put a heavier burden on local taxpayers. One of the best ways that tax relief can be provided to property owners is through finding new families to live in our communities. Quality of education is one of the first variables considered by families when deciding where to live. The construction of a state of the art 6-8 Middle and 9-12 High School will allow Adams and Cheshire to be far more competitive in attracting new property owners that will help expand our tax base and alleviate the burden on current residents.