Westfield Council revises school assistance priority

WESTFIELD – The City Council voted to revise the Massachusetts School Building Authority statement of interest (SOI) for the Southampton Road and Highland Avenue elementary schools Thursday night.
Frank Maher, director of operations, maintenance and food service, said the SOI needs to be revised because of recent improvements, roof replacement projects completed at the two schools.
“Annually, we submit statements of interest which contain deficiencies for each school building,” Maher said.
“However, this year we did put new roofs on those two buildings, so you have revised the statement of interest deficiency priorities,” Maher said. “The SOI will now list boilers and HVAC as the priority deficiencies for those two buildings.”
Maher said that the MSBA requires votes of both the School Committee and City Council to amend or change SOI priorities. The SOI documents must include the minutes of the meetings at which those boards have taken a formal vote to approve the building deficiencies cited in the SOI.
The MSBA documents require the certification of the City Clerk that the vote of the City Council was duly recorded and the date of the vote, while the School Committee chairman, Mayor Daniel M. Knapik, executive officer under city charter, must sign the minutes of the meeting at which the board approved the SOI.
The MSBA has five categories of SOI priorities which need to be documented in order to qualify a project from state funding. The MSBA typically reimburses a community a percentage of the project cost based on several factors. The reimbursement base for Westfield school projects is 72.74 percent, but that percentage can be increased as in the case of the proposed Ashley Street elementary school which will be reimbursed at nearly 68 percent of the total cost.
The community is obligated to finance the entire amount of the project, then submits reimbursement requests as the work is completed. The reimbursement request is typically not submitted for small projects, such as the two elementary school roofs, until all the work is done. However in a larger project, such as constructing a new building, reimbursements will be submitted as each phase of the work is completed over the entire construction effort.
Maher cited MSBA priority #5 “which explains and describes” specific building deficiencies.”
“Priority #5 is the replacement, renovation, or moderation of school facility systems, such as roofs, windows, boilers, heating and ventilation system to increase energy conservation and decrease energy related costs in a school facility,” Maher said. “The Southampton Road and Highland Avenue need to be modified to no longer reflect a need for roof projects.”

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