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Finance Committee Gives OK to Modular Classrooms

The committee approved $923,375 in funding for four classrooms at three Newton elementary schools.

and Programs & Services Committees, the Finance Committee Monday night voted 4-0 in favor of funding for four modular classrooms at three of the district's elementary schools. 

The classrooms -- which are slated to be at , and Schools -- are proposed to help crowding issues and significant increases to student enrollment.

The committee's vote, though, came after a lengthy discussion of how "green" the requested modulars would actually be, and whether certain modulars would actually benefit from additions like light shelves and fiberglass windows. 

Building Commissioner Stephanie Gilman presented several options to the committee Monday night for the four modulars, including basic modulars, "green" modulars and even "greener" modulars that incorporated extra features for sustainability. 

However, those extra green features -- including light shelves, fiberglass windows and daylight harvesting -- could add more than $170,000 to the total cost of the modular classrooms, Gilman said.

And according to School Committee member Kurt Kusiak, who was present at Monday night's meeting, that extra money could be used toward .

Although there were "slightly less bells and whistles," Kusiak said the committee favored the green modulars without the added features. 

Moreover, some modulars may be located in areas where the building would not take in as much light and therefore not reap the benefits of some of the added features. The two modulars at Zervas, for example, will likely be located in more shaded areas, Gilman said. Zervas is also high on the list for potential renovation or replacement in the near future. 

Just having the basic green modulars without the extras is already "ratcheting up the standard" from the typical, plain modular, Gilman said. 

The Finance Committee Monday night agreed to go with the basic green model, but with the understanding that project bids received by the city could provide estimates for the green add-ons. 

At last week's subcommittee meetings, aldermen had expressed some concern about the proposed elementary modulars not being as green as the modulars recently installed at Oak Hill Middle School, creating an inequity among district schools. Public Facilities requested all four modulars be green and increased the funding amount by almost $130,000. 

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