By Katina Caraganis

MediaNews

LUNENBURG -- The School Building Committee opted to tentatively move forward with a slightly higher local contribution number for the new middle-high school project after the formula used by the Massachusetts School Building Authority to determine what portion it would cover changed.

Dave Matthews, a member of the School Building Committee and a selectman, said the MSBA conducts a calculation for every building project that determines the baseline for a percentage increase, and that baseline number recently changed.

As a result, he said, the potential reimbursement rate from the MSBA will differ slightly, bringing the potential total cost the district will be on the hook for just over $38 million.

It is very likely, he said, the final number the district is responsible for will come down to as low as $37 million, which is below what was originally projected by the committee.

Because of the vote Thursday night, the total project costs the town is responsible for cannot go above $38 million, he said.

Earlier this month, the School Building Committee voted to submit a schematic design and budget to the MSBA for approval. The submission included schematic design drawings, the project's preliminary construction schedule, project estimates, total project cost, and a summary of how the district will deliver its special-education program within the new school.

The committee projected, at the time, that the total budget be $74,235,771. It was estimated that the maximum grant from the MSBA for the project will be $36,238,758, meaning the MSBA would cover 58.25 percent of all costs eligible for reimbursement, or approximately 48.8 of total project costs.

The final cost to the district, according to projections at the beginning of the month, would be $37,997,012.

The updated plans will be submitted to the MSBA this morning.

Matthews said after the meeting that that the committee is hopeful it will get the project costs to $37 million by choosing more cost effective materials, among other things.

The square footage of the project will not change, but some of the features will be moved around.

Those changes include taking a few classroom spaces from the high school wing and putting them above the administrative offices for more shared spaces, such as for foreign-language classes.

The gym and media area, which can be used for community events as well, has been moved to the center of the building, and the theater and gym wing that was proposed to jut out towards Turkey Hill Middle School will be turned around and all sides will be connected to the new building.

With these changes, they can cut down on costs of roofing, windows and perimeter walls.

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