Friday, March 21, 2014

Just the facts

Over the past two weeks, the Boards of Education in Newton, Andover, and Green have been considering or have approved a settlement regarding adjusted tuition related to the high school turf field project.  The proposed settlement was negotiated with the assistance of the Executive County Superintendent and Business Administrator. The school administrators agreed to recommend the following to their boards of education:
  1. Reduce the adjusted tuition resulting from the the turf field project by 15% for each sending district.
  2. Spread the remaining amount to be paid over four years to reduce the impact of a large one-year increase on the sending districts.
  3. Categorize the high school track resurfacing as a K-12 expense to reduce the cost to the sending districts by 50%.
  4. Revise the sending-receiving agreements to provide sending districts with discretion to review and approve large capital projects that impact high school tuition.

The turf field was discussed publicly at ten consecutive Newton Board of Education meetings over a six month period. The following timeline is intended to set the record straight regarding discussions about the field and its costs during meetings of the Newton Board of Education and the Tri-District Consortium.

June 12, 2010 - An ad hoc committee of residents from all three districts recommended the construction of a turf field to the Newton Board of Education as a solution to the region’s lack of appropriate athletic facilities.
March 3, 2011 - A Facilities Assessment Report from EI Associates referenced the ad hoc committee’s recommendation and put a rough estimate of field construction costs at $1,550,000
October 18, 2011 - The Board of Education unanimously approved hiring EI Associates to prepare an athletic field master plan for the high school.
November 8, 2011 - The Board held a lengthy, detailed Committee of the Whole discussion on the Facilities Assessment Plan and prioritized projects for each school with estimated costs. The turf field was listed as a high priority item for the high school at a cost of $1,550,000
November 22, 2011 - The list of priority facility items discussed at the November 8 meeting, including the turf field, was posted in the agenda attachments.
December 13, 2011 - EI Associates presented the master plan for high school athletic fields with a first phase to include a turf field on the existing stadium site with new lighting and a resurfaced track. A lengthy question and answer session followed the presentation.
January 10, 2012 - Dr. Greene and Mrs. Snyder presented additional information regarding the turf field and asked for Board direction regarding more exact costs, soil borings, layouts, bidding and an Ashford Street extension. A consensus was reached to proceed with exact costs, soil borings and the street extension investigation.
January 24, 2012 - The Board Finance Committee discussed 2012-13 revenues, finding several one-time revenues that would be best used for one-time expenses.
February 13, 2012 - The Board Finance Committee held a one hour discussion regarding options for 2012-13 expenditures prior to the regular meeting. When the committee discussion was shared with the full board, Mrs. Snyder reported that $800,000 would be appropriated at this time to the turf field project.
February 28, 2012 - EI Associates gave a status report on the turf field project including more exact costs, including a revised estimate of $1,100,000 for the construction. The Board passed a unanimous motion to approve a tentative budget, which included the turf field as an operating expense. The Board unanimously passed another motion authorizing the Business Administrator to file all documents necessary to amend the Long Range Facilities Plan to include the turf field, lighting, and track resurfacing.
March 12, 2013 - Dr. Greene stated that Newton was planning to fund the high school turf field as part of the regular operating budget at a Tri-District Consortium meeting held at Green Hills School. The meeting was attended by Andover, Green, and Newton superintendents, business administrators, and board representatives. Business Administrator Donna Snyder noted that this project would cause a one-time tuition increase.  
March 13, 2012 - The Newton Board of Education unanimously revised the tentative budget with a specific motion detailing a capital outlay in the operating budget of $1,360,564.  It was clearly stated that the majority of that expense would be for the turf field. The Board unanimously authorized the Business Administrator to solicit bids for the turf field.
March 27, 2012 - Dr. Greene made a budget presentation at the public hearing, which included a slide entitled 2012-13 Operating Budget with a line stating “Major new items: $1.36 million in facilities projects, including a new synthetic turf field at Newton High School.” The Newton Board of Education unanimously approved the final budget with a specific line item in the motion detailing a capital outlay in the operating budget of $1,360,564.
April 24, 2012 - The Board unanimously accepted the bid and awarded the contract to Applied Landscape Technologies for $1,197,647, which included the field construction and lighting.

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