The following update was sent by Superintendent Kathleen Bodie to all Arlington Public Schools families.
Now that construction of our new high school is underway, I wanted to give the Arlington community an update about the project budget, schedule, and recent items added back to the project.
Site preparation for the first two wings of the new school are complete, and if you drive by the site, you will see that construction is in full swing. The steel frame of the first two wings – the Performing Arts wing and the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) classroom wing – is anticipated to be complete in early February 2021. The project is on schedule and we expect faculty and students to move into the new wings in February 2022.
Consigli Construction and the Town of Arlington recently signed a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) agreement that sets the construction budget for the high school at $234,287,347, roughly $1 million less than the construction cost approved by voters in 2019. In addition, the AHS Building Committee was able to add back several items to the project. With associated soft costs added to construction cost, this brings the total project cost to $289.8M.
Items added back to the project
Now that the design is complete and the project GMP is set, there is a clearer picture of the project budget. Due to a competitive bid process and changes that have happened with the economy in 2020, the Building Committee was able to add a handful of desired items back into the project. Items returning to the project include lighting at the new athletic fields, the Minuteman Bikeway ramp that connects the bike path to the school grounds, a traffic light at Mill Street and additional insulation in the performing arts wing. In addition, the Building Committee added HVAC enhancements including bipolar ionization and a more robust air filtration system. If the budget allows later in the project, additional items may be added back.
Many parents have asked me whether the decision to have all-remote instruction at AHS this fall has had an impact on the construction timeline. Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Though Arlington High School has been operating on a remote schedule this fall for most students due to Covid-19, a group of 150 high-needs learners are in the school each day. In addition, study space is made for other students, some staff are in the building, and teachers have been hosting “reverse field trips” for a limited number of students to meet in person in small groups with faculty members.
Phase 1 of the construction project, which is now underway, consists of building a new classroom wing and auditorium on the front lawn of AHS. As designed and planned (and a benefit of the chosen design), this phase of construction is separate from the existing school, leaving the current building completely operational. The Building Committee did examine the schedule and work flow given the COVID-imposed changes in school occupancy, but despite the reduced number of students and staff in the facility, there was no viable way to accelerate Phase 1.
The only way to begin Phase 2, which includes the demolition of the existing auditorium and other spaces, earlier than the winter of 2022 as currently planned would be to keep most of Arlington High School closed to students until January of 2022 so that work can begin earlier. Such a decision could advance the project by a few months, but it would have limited, if any, savings. The Building Committee is not recommending any changes to the current schedule.
If you would like to stay informed about the project, the AHS Building Committee has provided the following resources:
- Project website and Facebook page
- New Vimeo channel with construction progress videos
- Construction Updates – weekly emails, specific to construction activities on the site
- eBulletins – bimonthly summary emails about the project
I wish you and your families a happy and healthy new year.
Kathleen Bodie, Ed.D
Superintendent of Schools
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