By Tracy F. Seelye, Express editor firstname.lastname@example.org
HANSON — The Schools Priority Repair Committee got down to business Wednesday, July 9 — and one of its immediate tasks included scheduling a tour of the Maquan and Indian Head schools on Wednesday, July 16.
The committee was to convene that session at 6:30 p.m. at Maquan for the tours with W-H Facilities Director Ernest Sandland and Assistant Superintendent of District Operations Craig Finley.
In planning the tour, members were especially interested in the state of the slate roof on Indian Head School.
But the first order of business for the new panel was organization. They voted to name Selectman Bruce Young chairman; Michael Jones, who is employed as an HVAC project manager, as vice chairman and Brian Campbell, who works with a construction management firm, as secretary.
The panel then reviewed its mission statement and open meeting regulations and scheduled a 7 p.m. Wednesdays meeting time at least until Aug. 20 — when member Bob Hayes must attend the School Committee meetings he chairs on the third Wednesday of each month, and at times more frequently.
The mission statement calls for developing and presenting to the Board of Selectmen a “viable and realistic plan to identify immediate capital and related repairs” to keep the two schools safe, secure and comfortable for students, faculty, staff and the community.
One goal is to have at least an estimate for engineering costs ready for the October Town Meeting.
Young stressed the committee would work closely with the School Committee, its Facilities Subcommittee and Selectmen to accomplish that goal.
Hanson Town Administrator Ron San Angelo, attending as a supporter of the committee, provided members with information on the municipal design and construction procedures and a copy of the State Open Meeting Law.
Committee member Christopher Howard had questions on both the meeting law and the process of determining how the process of how the panel will make repair recommendations and estimated costs.
“When you do municipal procurement it’s a whole different animal than it is if you’re doing it in the private sector,” San Angelo said. “You have to follow state procurement laws. … A person who provides an estimate cannot bid on the job.”
Eventually and owner’s project manager (OPM) will have to be hired to make sure the specifications governing such estimates are drawn up correctly, San Angelo stressed.
Young provided the panel members with a copy of the Regional School Agreement and a timeline of the former Building Committee’s work over the last several years.
“The town actually leases the schools to the School District under the stipulation that the Regional School District has care and custody of those buildings for 50 years,” Young said of the lease last revised in 1998. Elementary school repairs over $5,000 must be approved by Town Meeting.
Member Maria McClellen asked if a “figure not to exceed” a certain amount could be presented to Town Meeting for, as an example, immediate repair of boilers at Maquan School.
San Angelo said he believes Town Meeting voters would prefer to see a “real solid number of what they would be voting a debt exclusion for” in a given article.
A resident attending the meeting asked at what point the state might be asked for funding.
The statement of interest required by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for accelerated repair projects are accepted at certain times of the year, Young and Hayes agreed.
“If there was a catastrophic event with the boiler, the school district would have to fund a repair, obviously, and keep the building open,” Hayes said. “They would come back to us, say spring Town Meeting, with the bill saying this is what the repair was.”
But longer-term repairs are a different process through MSBA.
“There are a lot of different triggers involved in that,” he said.