WHITMAN — Town Administrator Lincoln Heineman updated the Board of Selectmen on the work of the Whitman Middle School Building Committee at the board’s Tuesday, July 20 meeting.
Heineman and Selectman Randy LaMattina both serve on the building committee, which has been meeting nearly every month.
“Right now, out in the world, the bid document for soliciting an owner’s project manager [has been of interest],” Heineman said. “Bids from prospective owner’s project managers are due back on July 28.”
It incudes an estimate of the total cost of the renovation or replacement of the Whitman Middle School, estimated to be between $50 to $85 million. The grade configuration of the new or renovated middle school — whether it will be grades five through eight or six through eight — is an ongoing question right now and could mean a larger price tag if the school must house four grades instead of three.
“I think everybody on that committee knows the shape [of the school],” LaMattina said. “Obviously the MSBA knows the shape for the Whitman Middle School to get picked in the first go-around for refurbishment or replacement.”
The project timeline includes eight months for a feasibility study and schematic design, 10 months to a year for the design phase and bidding phase including construction document development is expected to take another 10 months to a year with the final construction phase taking two to three years.
“I think that might be sort of aggressive, but I want to make sure the board and the public knows what’s out there in this solicitation for a bid for owner’s project managers,” Heineman said.
Right now, interviews are expected to be done by an evaluation subcommittee to be appointed by the School Building Committee with the awarding of a contract tentatively planned for early October.
LaMattina said the cost estimate is based on “exactly how the building sits right now” a grade six to eight construction with no performing arts center.
He added that he wished he could say everything has gone smoothly on the building committee, but stressed they are people who do not want to see a failed project.
“We know we need a new school and I think some fiscal issues have caused a slight division,” LaMattina said. “It’s still very early, but I think, for myself, and Lincoln agrees — and some other members on there —we know we need a new middle school … and we’re going to try to do it in the most fiscally responsible way so that we get a project that passes.”
He said it is not certain where the responsibility lies right now for the number of grades in the school, but stressed that educational needs will carry the extra grade.
“The superintendent and assistant superintendent have definitely submitted an academic plan where they could justify it,” LaMattina said. “The cost factor, we don’t know yet.”