5 Things You Missed at School Committee: Swing Space, Tiger's Loft Bistro
The School Committee approved the fiscal 2013 budget Monday night, but there was a lot of discussion on other topics including facilities projects and the Tiger's Loft Bistro.
1. Swing Space. With the Angier rebuilding project moving along, the School Committee Monday night voted 8-1 to support the city's decision to use the former Carr School as swing space during Angier construction. This school, currently the Newton Cultural Center, will house students starting in September 2014.
Ward 1 committee member Geoff Epstein was the only member to vote against the proposal, saying he "struggled" with the choice of Carr. Epstein had expressed some concern in past meetings, questioning why the city didn't look into purchasing the former Aquinas College on Walnut Park.
Aquinas, Epstein said, could potentially be purchased and turned into condos or a 40B development, leading to more crowding in the schools. Epstein also questioned where the current Carr occupants will go once the renovations start.
According to Public Buildings Commissioner Stephanie Gilman, a working group at City Hall is currently figuring out where to move the tenants of the building.
The renovations to get the school up to speed are estimated to cost $10 million.
2. Tiger's Loft Bistro. According to Superintendent David Fleishman, the Tiger's Loft Bistro at Newton North will be allowed to start serving students sometime next week. Earlier this year, the student-run restaurant had to stop serving students due to federal regulations involving reimbursement to public school systems for free and reduced lunch, according to a report in The Newtonite.
However, Fleishman said administrators and faculty talked over the issue with Whitsons, the district's food service company, and straightened things out so that students can serve their peers at the bistro.
3. Angier update. In other facilities news, the Angier Elementary rebuilding project is moving along. The project was scheduled to go before the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) board today (March 28), where officials will consider whether to partner with Newton in the Angier rebuilding feasibility study. The study could lead to a grant partnership down the road where the MSBA may reimburse as much as a third of the project's total cost.
In January, the MSBA invited Newton to apply for the program, which would involve a partnership between Newton and the MSBA during the rebuilding process. If the MSBA agrees to partner with Newton in the project, there are specific steps along the way the district will have to take in order to receive reimbursement for part of the building costs.
4. Newton Schools Foundation update. Former School Committee member Kurt Kusiak sat in front of the committee Monday night to review a memorandum of understanding (MOU) as well as information on the Newton Schools Foundation naming rights campaign. The MOU outlines the details of the naming rights as well as the process by which donations will be accepted and transferred.
The committee will take a vote on the memorandum of understanding at its next meeting. To view the memorandum of understanding, check out the .pdf to the right.
5. Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The committee reviewed the fiscal 2013 CIP for the schools along with a review of how the city put together its most recent CIP.
On the school side, projects for fiscal 2013 include:
- Lincoln-Eliot mechanical upgrades - improve the HVAC system ($250,000)
- Burr mechanical upgrades - replacement of pneumatic heating controls with digital controls ($250,000)
- Bowen masonry repairs - address active leaks at window wells into classroom space and general envelope cracks, stairs and ramps ($60,000)
- Bigelow masonry repairs - repair and/or replacement of the concrete stair at main entrance ($350,000)
- Countryside masonry repairs – resolve water infiltration causing damage to boiler room equipment ($100,000)
- Oak Hill flooding issue – address flooding issues through regrading on land and re-routing two downspouts ($100,000)
- F.A. Day expansion/renovation ($6.75M)
- Total: $7.86 million