Frequently Asked Questions
Will the completed school project have enough space for all the students?
Yes, the new school will have enough space for the students and be able to accommodate future enrollment variations. The completed school will be significantly larger than the existing school and will be designed with flexibility in mind. The existing school was constructed in 1966 for 550 students. It was designed under very different and less generous standards than modern day schools. After the MSBA performed a rigorous study of population trends, which was fine-tuned based on local information provided by the district, the two parties agreed upon a new design enrollment of 610 students. The new design enrollment exceeds the existing school’s design, which points to a larger school being an appropriate solution. Futhermore, the MSBA’s space guidelines exceed that of the original school design; the completed school will have a larger gymnasium, cafeteria, kitchen, and library, and will have more and larger classrooms, right-sized Special Education spaces to meet the needs of the of the school, and more administrative offices and workspaces than the current school.
The precise square footage of the completed school project will be known by the end of the Feasibility Study and Schematic Design phases. However, a preliminary guess-timate indicates the completed school will be at least 35% larger than the current school.
An explanation of the MSBA’s enrollment methodology is available on the MSBA website: https://www.massschoolbuildings.org/building/prerequisites/enrollment_methodology
What is the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA)?
The City of Leominster is working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) on the Fall Brook Elementary School Building project. The MSBA is a quasi-independent government agency that funds capital improvement projects in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ public schools. The MSBA “work[s] with local communities to create affordable, sustainable, and energy-efficient schools across Massachusetts.” It has a dedicated revenue stream of one penny of the Commonwealth’s 6.25 percent sales tax. Since 2004, the MSBA has made more than $15.6B in reimbursement payments to school districts for school construction projects.
What is the timeline for the Fall Brook Elementary School Building project?
This project is expected to take anywhere from five to seven years given the rigorous and multi-step process the MSBA requires. The process began in December 2022 when the MSBA invited the City of Leominster into the Eligibility Period following the submittal of a Statement of Interest (SOI). It is anticipated that construction or renovation of Fall Brook Elementary School, at the earliest, may begin in late 2025 with project completion in 2027/2028. Final Project Schedule will be determined in a later design phase as it will depend on if the project will be a new building or addition/renovation of the existing building.
How much will the project cost? How will the project be paid for?
The estimated total cost of the Fall Brook Elementary School Building Project is between $60M and $125M; however, the actual total project will be unknown until the Feasibility Study is completed. The MSBA will reimburse the City of Leominster for eligible project costs during construction. The reimbursement rates are dependent upon various socioeconomic factors, as well as limitations related to square footage, with a minimum base rate of 31 percent up to a maximum of 80 percent. Several factors can increase the MSBA’s reimbursement rate, including a community income factor, community property factor and community poverty factor. The reimbursement rate for the feasibility phase is 74.01% but the reimbursement rate for the potential construction project is not yet determined as it will be based on several factors that are part of the MSBA process.
What are some of the needs for the current school?
Based on community input, there are significant needs such as; a bigger gym, natural light, new windows, a healthy environment, new ventilation, increased security, auditorium & music/band room, space for art/music, staff space, special education classrooms a computer lab, space for testing & instruction, larger library, outside seating areas/play areas & nature classrooms.
What are some of the concerns for the current school and a future project?
Based on community & school input, there are significant concerns with the existing building such as; security, maintenance and not having enough space for future students. Other concerns with a future construction project are; impact on students if there is a renovation, the timeframe of possible renovations and will the new space be big enough for future growth and possible additional student population.
What is the timeframe for a new building - when would it be completed?
Depending on if the decision is to build a new building or renovate & add to the existing, the timeframes will vary. Overall timeline would be approximately 3 years from the final decision being made and funding is appropriated.
If a new school is being built - will it be on the same site?
There is currently only one option for the building site which is the existing one. A new building would be built on the same site and kids would still be able to attend school during construction. Part of the design for a new school will address proper classroom sizes, traffic for drop-off and pick-up, accomodating future growth and listening to what the community needs.
What are some of the positive aspects of the school that should be incorporated into a new building?
The current Fall Brook Elementary school is proud, friendly, vibrant, caring, fun, active, diverse and welcoming with a small town feel. Some of the more negative comments on the current school are outdated, strict and lack resources.
Where can I go to learn more information about this project? How can I stay informed?
The Fall Brook School Building Committee (FBBC) is committed to an inclusive, transparent process. As the project progresses, there will be considerable opportunities for public input and community engagement, including stakeholder surveys and public meetings. The project website has information to stay informed, such as relevant news articles, meeting agendas, minutes and presentations from all public meetings. The project website will be updated regularly as new information is available.
What does DSP, PDP, PSR, FS, SD and DD stand for that are mentioned in some documents?
DSP – Designer Selection Panel
PDP – Preliminary Design Program
PSR – Preferred Schematic Report
FS – Feasibility Study
SD – Schematic Design
DD – Design Development