Cost cutting measures to-date


Throughout the project, the Building Committee has been mindful of the financial impact of the project on today’s taxpayers, while planning a school that will serve the town for the next century. The Committee has explored multiple ways to reduce the cost of the project, all resulting in a lower project cost to taxpayers. This blog summarizes these cost-cutting efforts.

Some decisions were made early in the Feasibility phase and were reflected in the preliminary estimate of $308M.  During the Schematic Design phase, the Committee made additional reductions, resulting in a final budget of $291M.

Project Funding

Arlington’s financial partner the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) will partially fund a portion of the educational spaces in the building. The MSBA reimbursement rate can be potentially increased by Incentive Points for things such as “High Efficiency Green School Program” and “Best Practices for Routine and Capital Maintenance”. There are aspects of the project, however, that will not be reimbursed by the MSBA, such as school district and community education offices.

The table below summarizes the cost reduction steps taken so far during the Feasibility and Schematic Design phases.

Action Savings Effect
Selection of Design Option 3A – New Building (vs. renovating original buildings)


Reduces overall project cost
Relocation of Comptroller, Facilities and IT offices


Reduces overall project cost
Value Engineering


Reduces overall project cost
Accelerate Performance partnership

$200,000+ in energy rebates

Reduces lifecycle cost of building


Action MSBA reimbursement increase   Savings 
Proactive Building Maintenance Budget


LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification


Construction Manager at Risk delivery method



Selection of Design Option

In June 2018, the Committee selected design Option 3A, an all-new facility. One of the factors considered was that this option was $25 million less expensive than renovating parts of AHS and building an addition (Option 1).  Read our Ponderings Blog ‘What factored into the preferred design concept decision?’ for more information on this decision.

Relocation of Town Offices

In an effort to reduce the square footage of the new facility, and thereby the overall project cost to taxpayers, the Committee evaluated possible relocation of non-AHS programs that currently reside in the facility.

The decision was made to move the Comptroller to Town Hall, IT and Facilities departments to the future DPW facility and to reduce and reconfigure office space within the existing district office floor plan to accommodate the Payroll Department (with most storage moving to Town Hall). This reconfiguration eliminated a build-out for Payroll saving nearly $1 million. Due to extremely limited space in all Town buildings, the following educationally-related programs currently located at AHS will remain in the new facility: Menotomy Preschool, district administration offices, Town/School Payroll offices, LABBB special education collaborative, Arlington Community Education offices.

HMFH Architects performed a cost/space analysis on the potential use of the Parmenter School for the Menotomy Preschool and district administration offices. After reviewing the study results and a discussion of the pros and cons, the Committee voted to use the Parmenter School only as a temporary location for Menotomy Preschool during construction of AHS and not for permanent relocation of either the preschool or the district administration offices. Read our Ponderings Blog: Parmenter School Analysis for more information.

Value Engineering

Additional design work and site analysis took place during the Schematic Design phase and a refined estimate of $299M was presented to the Committee in January. After receiving input from the school administration, School Committee, and community input at the January forum, the Committee further reduced the scope of the project to $291.4M.

The additional reductions included: reconfiguration of district office space, simplification of the amphitheater and Minuteman Bikeway ramp designs, re-allocation of sustainability budget items to the Town’s Ameresco power purchase agreement, alternate design concepts for recognition of historic elements, and minimal changes to building attributes. Read more about the budget decisions in our Ponderings Blog: Arriving at the final budget

Accelerate Performance Partnership

The AHS Building Project is participating in the Accelerate Performance program, a U.S. Department of Energy funded initiative that empowers building owners and developers to achieve desired energy performance goals. The project is receiving free technical support from Eversource (our electric utility), National Grid (our natural gas utility) and their consultant, Seventhwave, to help incorporate sustainability goals and an energy use intensity target into the design of the new high school.  As a result of this partnership, Arlington is eligible to receive future energy rebates. Read more about the Accelerate Performance program.

Proactive Building Maintenance Budget

To protect the MSBA’s investment in school buildings, all qualifying districts are asked to demonstrate that they are actively performing routine and capital maintenance to their school facilities. This Maintenance and Capital Planning (MCP) information may qualify districts for additional reimbursement. This information was included in Arlington’s MSBA Module I Deliverable.

LEED Certification Goal

One of the early decisions made by the Sustainability subcommittee was to select a green building rating system. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system was chosen to help guide efforts to design a building that addresses multiple sustainability dimensions. Not only does the MSBA provide additional reimbursement to projects that use the LEED system, but the Committee made this decision to reduce the lifecycle costs of the building and acknowledge the Town’s commitment to sustainability. Read our Ponderings Blog ‘Sustainability at the New AHS’ for more information.

Construction Manager at Risk Approach

The Construction Manager at Risk (or CM at Risk) approach is a construction delivery method well-suited for complex projects and entails a commitment by the Construction Manager (CM) to deliver the project within a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP). The MSBA provides additional reimbursement to projects that use this beneficial approach. Learn more about the Construction Manager at Risk delivery method.


The Committee’s goal is to maximize our investment in a new facility that will best serve Arlington for the next 50-100 years. In all budget decisions, the Committee has prioritized educational needs, flexible design, impact to taxpayers, quality building materials and a sustainable infrastructure.


Note: updated May 30, 2019

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