Sprinklers Could Put Major Dent in School Expansion, Budget
The systems are required in school buildings undergoing renovations.
It appears as though plans to expand some Newton schools has hit yet another budgetary snag—one that could come with a significant price tag.
A law approved in Jan. 2009 that requires school buildings undergoing renovations to have full sprinkler systems will add some cost to the proposed expansion projects at F.A. Day Middle School and five elementary schools.
According to Chief Administrative Officer Sandy Guryan, “preliminary” cost estimtates to install sprinkler systems in an expanded F.A. Day Middle School would run the department around $900,000.
The cost to sprinkle each of the five elementary schools in line for modular classrooms ranged between $300,000 and the "high $300,000's," Guryan said. Countryside Elementary, though, could reach as much as $500,000.
The estimates, Guryan added, included design and "other costs folded in."
The sprinkler matter was brought up in early December and first discussed at a Board of Aldermen Public Facilities meeting.
In November, the School Committee proposed roughly $5 million in expansion at several schools, including permanent construction at F.A. Day Middle School and modular classrooms at Zervas, Burr, Countryside, Horace Mann and Mason-Rice Elementary Schools.
Guryan said both she and the School Committee's Facilities/Operations Subcommittee have met with several city departments—including the Fire Department and Law Department—and the sprinkler law applies to all of the expansion projects the department has proposed.
“The requirement to provide sprinklers in the schools holds,” Guryan said. “Facilites will review (the estimates) and come forward with a proposal.”
There is an appeal process, Guryan said, which would allow the School Department to have some leeway in terms of planning—which may “address some of the funding questions.”
Once the Facilities Subcommittee meets and discusses the sprinkler estimates, they will present a recommendation to the School Committee at its next meeting on Jan. 24. The committee will likely vote on the matter at that meeting to keep the process moving, Superintendent David Fleishman said.
With a tight budget for the expansion projects and a tough financial forecast, committee member Matt Hills noted that there would have to be some "tradeoffs" with the original plan now that the sprinkler costs have come forward.
Committee member Kurt Kusiak, who also serves as the liaison to the Facilities Subcommittee, told his colleagues the facilities group would likely come forward with a recommendation in addition to other possible options and scenarios.