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NRHS Space Discussion Continues…Nov. 16, 2016

By Ann Needle
The Nashoba School Committee continued its discussion on how it should address potential expansion of Nashoba Regional High School, with some new perspective from administration at its Nov. 9 meeting.
Superintendent Brooke Clenchy offered her thoughts on how the district may want to proceed in identifying a solution to NRHS’s space issues. “When I first came to the district, my first thought was to look at what we could do with this building,” she said. But the more she learned of the high school’s structural problems and space configuration, “The more I thought we could consider other options.”

In speaking with someone at the MA School Building Authority with expertise in analyzing what options may be best for a given school building, Clenchy reported the person estimated NRHS could qualify for more than 48 percent reimbursement from the state of eligible repair or construction costs. This would be in a range of 31 percent to 80 percent. Though these estimates are just that, she commented, “This was a little bit of a game changer, to tell you the truth.”

Clenchy also mentioned that, though the MSBA will be taking statements of interest come January 2017, the state agency “doesn’t have to open up a window for applications every year.”

After speaking with Minuteman High School Superintendent Dr. Edward Bouquillon about the recently approved building of a new vocational school, Clenchy said she learned that MSBA projects generally are categorized either “core” — such as Minuteman’s rebuild — or “accelerated repair” (roofing projects, new windows or HVAC). What would be requested from the feasibility study would hinge on how the district decides any project should be categorized, she said.

Clenchy stressed that she is open to considering just about any solutions, but there is still a lot of preliminary work to be done before applying for state funds.

SC Chair Lorraine Romasco of Bolton asked Stow SC Rep. Mark Jones — who was on the original space committee that evaluated the high school’s needs — to compile a detailed list of potential tasks in applying for funds and perhaps launching a project, along with a timeline of when the community would get involved in making financial decisions. Jones is slated to present his findings at the SC’s Dec. 7 meeting.
“I can’t say this enough, we’re just starting the process,” and no decisions have been made about what type of project to pursue, if any, Romasco cautioned SC members and the audience.

Goals in Writing
The SC reviewed drafts of several documents it has often noted have been designed to make the nature of its job clearer to everyone. Among these, the list of topics for the School Committee Handbook of practices and procedures has yet to be approved, but few changes were suggested. Romasco emphasized that, until now, the SC’s rule and customs need to be passed down to new members by word of mouth. But the new SC Member Handbook should assure that “knowledge gets passed from one School Committee to the next,” while its rules should “help us be a little more thoughtful about what we want and why we want it.”

The Election Fallout
Last week’s election results brought up a topic that could be on many parents’ minds. SC Rep. Neal Darcy of Bolton reported he has read on many online sites that the vote to legalize marijuana in MA will be “a nightmare for school districts.” He asked if the SC should re-visit its policies on substances in the schools. Brooke Clenchy replied that she would rather first gather the opinions of local law enforcement and other community officials before changing anything.