HANOVER — Both Abington and Scituate have approved the South Shore Tech budget for fiscal 2023 at their respective town meetings, Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey reported to the School Committee on Wednesday, April 13.
“We now go into a bit of a town meeting lull and we head into the first Monday of May — the Super Monday [May 2] — where the other communities’ town meetings are scheduled,” he said. “I believe, at this point, we’re done with any finance committee or advisory committee meetings, but stand by to answer any questions between now and the town meetings that are left.”
Hickey also asked the committee to establish a building committee for the renovation expansion program for which they are seeking MSBA funding.
The committee, consisting of Hickey and the School Committee, was approved.
The district was advised of the invitation to into the MSBA’s Core Program last month.
“The letter basically puts us in a pretty exclusive club — at least 17 schools out of at least 58 received this letter saying, ‘Your needs that you identified and our own research confirms that you have been invited to show us in the next nine months that you are ready to begin this process,’” Hickey said at the time. “We’ve been applying since 2015.”
He said those previous applications, and the funds set aside during those years, puts SST in a position to move very quickly through this first phase.
“They want to make sure you have local support, that you have feasibility funds that you need, that you have plans that make sense,” Hickey said last month said of the MSBA’s caution not to get ahead of things. “[SST] has put some thought and time into this. I have every confidence that they’re going to fulfill all the particular requirements.”
A building committee is one of the earliest concrete steps in the process MSBA requires, but, Hickey said it is unlikely that the committee would have any tangible goals or tasks until later in the process when permission is received to appoint an owner/project manager and an engineering firm.
MSBA has approved a questionnaire to determine whether current programs should be augmented, he said.
“These are all vision statements,” Hickey stressed adding he is more interested in responses to a Chapter 74 program document comparing data from applications and wait list against programs in place or that might be offered against a labor market analysis.
“They want to know, if we had the ability to offer new programming, what might we want to offer?” Hickey said. “If we had the opportunity to expand programs that are currently here, what might we want to expand?”
Hickey said the MSBA looks at enrollment data, including the percent of total students in the district are applying for entrance, as well as attrition rates as part of enrollment projections.
At some point, MSBA would discuss the size of an expansion sought, based on the number of students the district could reasonable attract. They could set a range of students such an expansion could handle, including in the eventuality that another town might join the region.
Hickey expects to bring motion language for a feasibility study before the committee in May. He said early indications are that a reimbursement of 55 percent are to be expected at the end of the project.
“We’re in very good shape for completing the homework assignments,” he said of the process MSBA has put in place with the ability to move to the next step expected in the fall.