Turns out that Peabody won’t be invited to participate in the Mass. School Building Authority‘s model school program for the construction of a new Higgins, and as a result the new school could end up costing taxpayers at least $3 million more, putting the new estimated price tag at $90 million.
Mayor Ted Bettencourt recently revealed that the MSBA voted against inviting Peabody into the model school program because there is no model middle school that matches Peabody’s needs. In other words, our middle school population is too large to fit one of the existing, off-the-shelf models.
Another big advantage of being in the model school program is the guarantee of a 5-point higher reimbursement rate from the state. Next step in this process is for the School Building Committee to present a final plan to the MSBA for approval in the spring.
Sounds like this first overrun was definitely unavoidable, but this might also be a good time to insist that our elected officials proceed cautiously with our tax dollars when it comes to avoiding future overruns.
Although not many would disagree that we definitely need to build a new middle school, it’s important that the Mayor also keep his eye on escalating costs, and cut back on the plan and some “amenities” to avoid a larger tax burden. We want a nice, new modern building for our kids, but it’s important to note that the education that goes on in that new building is more important than the structure itself.
As with all publicly funded construction projects, it’s likely that there will be more cost overruns.
We need that new school, but we also want to make sure we manage this in a fiscally responsible way, so that already overburdened taxpayers don’t get fleeced.
Here are some more details in the Peabody Patch about these latest developments.
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