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Elementary School Building Committee
Contact TypeContact Information
This committee has been dissolved.
380 Great Road
Stow, MA 01775-2127

Former Members:
Former Members:
Ellen Sturgis, Co-Chair
Amy Finkel Hastings, architect;Co-chair
Michael Wood, Superintendent of Schools
Lynn Colletti, School Committee
Gary Bernklow, Selectmen (Finance Comm rep)
Craig Martin, Building Inspector
Charlie Kern, Selectman
Lisa D'Alessio, associate
Stephen Quinn, Contractor
David Korn, associate
Kevin LaCoste, Principal, Pompo/Center
Paul Griffin, Neil Joyce: CMS Inc., Owners Project Manager
Link to PageLink to Page
ESBC Documents & Links:
Link to PageLink to PageLink to Page
This committee has been dissolved.

August 2016 News
The Elementary School Building Committee is please to provide the FINAL REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE August 15, 2016
The Elementary School Building Committee was formed following the 2007 Annual Town Meeting, to direct and oversee the renovation and addition to the Center School.

On July 20, 2016, over nine years later, and four years after the building opened, the Mass School Building Association (MSBA) voted to close out the Center School project! On August 15, the ESBC voted to disband.  This is our final report.

As has been reported in our previous annual reports, it has been a long road, complicated by the eleventh hour bankruptcy of our general contractor.  We were approved for funding by the MSBA in 2009, broke ground in 2010, and welcomed all Stow school children, grades K-5, to the new Center School September 2012.  The delay in closeout has largely been caused by the bankruptcy and resulting complications of correcting construction errors.

The Town Meeting voted authorized a budget of $37,829,870 for the cost of the school over two town meetings in 2007 and 2009, for the feasibility study and eventual construction. Below is a summary of the final numbers:

Initial Estimate                        $37,829,870     This included the feasibility study
                                                        & Initial vote from 2009

Final Cost                              $30,786,703    under budget by $7.04 million
MSBA excluded from reimbursement(3,245,680)     incl legal, site expenses
Basis for MSBA reimbursement    $27,541,023
Reimbursement rate                          50.85%      
Funds rec’d from MSBA           $14,004,610     fully paid to Stow as of 8/10/16

Balance of project costs                16,782,093
Fundraising by private citizens     (352,643)
Total Cost to Stow taxpayers    $16,429,450     TM estimated $20,288,240
                                                          a reduction of over $3.8 million

Given the bankruptcy, legal costs were higher than anticipated, but in spite of that, the whole project still came in under budget by close to $7 million.  The biggest savings was in the timing: at the time we went out to bid, we were in the first round of new MSBA funding and the economy was at a low point, so there were many firms in need of work.  We still had to take the low bid in construction, which didn’t work out well, but we benefited from one of the best architects for school projects in New England, and had a dedicated project management team.  

We had initiated private fundraising, led by RECESS and organized by Greta Morgan, with the understanding, from its initial legislation, that the MSBA would reward us an additional ½ % for these funds—at the closeout, however, we learned that this was no longer part of their program, and the cost to push back on this was not worth the expected gain.  We are still very grateful to RECESS and all those who contributed to offsetting the taxpayers’ bill by over $350,000.

In its first four years of operation, the new Center School is the pride of the community and is a perfect complement to the dedicated professional and support staff that work there.  The test of an innovative building is in the operation, and we are happy to report it has worked out very well.

This process has encompassed not only the nine years of the ESBC, but the intensive work of the School Building Task Force, and several committees before that.  We appreciate the support of the entire community in coming to agreement and supporting the creation of a tremendous school.  A final thanks to the Brait Builders for stepping in at the 11th hour to ensure an on-time opening and quality workmanship, to CMS our project managers, and to Symmes Maini McKee Architects, for being great partners.

Respectfully submitted,

Ellen S. Sturgis, Co-Chair
Amy Finkel Hastings, Co-Chair; Architect
Stephen Quinn, Contractor; Planning Board
Craig Martin, Building Inspector
Gary Bernklow, (former) Selectman (rep for Finance Committee)
Brooke Clency, NRSD Superintendent
Lynn Colletti, NRSD School Committee

Past members
Michael Wood, (Former NRSD) Superintendent
Charlie Kern, (Former Stow) Selectman
David Korn, Associate Member
Lisa D’Alessio, Associate Member
Kevin LaCoste, (Former) Principal, Center School
Greg Irvine, (Former) Principal, Center School

Voted on by the ESBC 8.15.16

The Elementary School Building Committee is please to announce the FINAL meeting of the committee was held on August 15, 2016.

Elementary School Building Meeting Minutes
August 15, 2016
Town Building

Attendees:  Ellen Sturgis, Amy Finkel-Hastings, Stephen Quinn, Craig Martin, Brooke Clency (Superintendent) , Absent:  Charlie Kern, Gary Bernklow, Lynn Colletti
Ellen Sturgis called the meeting to order at 7:34 p.m.  
Ellen confirmed this is the last meeting of the Elementary School Building Committee.  The final payment and closeout report has been received from the Mass School Building Authority.  The report was distributed to committee members.  As such, Ellen volunteered to take minutes as they will be co-signed by Amy and submitted directly to the Town Clerk.

Ellen distributed a draft of the Final Report which is to be submitted to the Selectmen.  Based on clarification from Paul Griffin, the two “excluded” numbers will be combined, as they are not tied specifically to the Stella bankruptcy.  The name of the new superintendent, Brooke Clenchy, will be added to the report.  
Steve made a motion to accept the final report as amended. Craig seconded. Unanimous.
Ellen thanked the committee, those present, as well as Gary, Michael Wood, and special thanks to Lorraine Finnegan (SMMA), Phil Poinelli (SMMA), Paul Griffin (CMS) for a great nine years, and all being part of this amazing school.
With that, Craig made the motion to disband the Elementary School Building Committee. Amy seconded.  The vote was unanimous.

Respectfully submitted,
Ellen Sturgis
Witnessed by Amy Hastings and submitted to the Town Clerk 8/15/16.

aerial photo august2012.jpg
Above--Photo taken by  Nancy DiGiovanni aboard Central Mass Helicopters August 15, 2012

November/December 2012
The School is now open and running, but the ESBC continues to meet until the final punch lists are completed, and the final signoff by the MSBA is received.  Meanwhile, we got great feedback from residents coming in to vote on Election Day, so we'll be hosting another morning of school tours:

SATURDAY, JANUARY  26TH AT 10AM AND 11AM (until noon).
Park in either lot (Hartley or Great Road) and meet in main lobby.
For more information, email or call 978/897-6831 (Ellen)

May 2012 (update handed out at Town meeting)
Though there is no article on this year’s warrant, we wanted to give taxpaying residents an update on where the project is financially and our prognosis for the completion of the project.  
Overall Budget
Originally, we had projected a total cost of $37,849,870 but given a reduced bid by the awarding general contractor, this was reduced to $32,588,714.  This included approximately $2.9 million in contingency funds, a “set aside” for change orders, unexpected costs and other unanticipated circumstances.
As of March 31 (our most recent reporting period), approximately 75% of the budget had been spent.    We have $1.6 million left in contingency funds, so we certainly won’t be going over the budget;  it is hard to know, however, what amount of contingency funds will be required for unforeseen conditions over the next four months. MSBA is up to date on reimbursements, so the Town is saving significant amounts in unneeded interest expense: as of March 31, we had received over $10 million from the state, having spent about $23.5 million.  The average household will pay $291 in FY13, which is down from last year’s estimate of $364.
Project Status
As was reported in the paper, Phase I (the new building) was completed behind schedule, but the students have now been in there over two months and are loving it!  We were happy to  host an open house at the end of March for residents to walk through – photos will be showing before Town Meeting for those of you that missed it!
We’re now anxious to make up the time and ensure that students from all grades are able to arrive on the first day of the 2012-13 school year into the new school.  We still believe that will happen but it’s going to be tight.  The challenge of renovations is that when one finally opens the walls or even floors, there are unanticipated surprises and challenges to overcome, and we’ve had our share.  But the weather was extremely cooperative this spring (even raining just after the seeding was done!), so we’re hoping all goes well over these next several months.
Ribbon Cutting Celebration:  Save the date of Sunday, September 9th for the Community Celebration of the new school.  It’s possible we may push this back into September, so stay tuned to the Stow Independent and/or our website, but as of now, that’s our plan!
February 2012
The move in has occurred and the fourth and fifth graders will be entering the new building when they return from vacation on February 27.  The committee met with PJ Stella on February 1st and were assured that, "presuming no big surprises", the project will be substantially completed by July 1.  The ESBC with their project manager, CMS Inc. will continue to hold the contractor to this schedule.  Meanwhile the building looks pretty awesome and the community will be invited in soon to take a look.  Asbestos abatement has already begun in the "old" building and soon, demolition and reconstruction will begin.

January 2012
Update January 24: We learned this afternoon that the Move-In date has had to change from this Friday to February 17, 2012 (school vacation): this was caused by a unanticipated problem in the rooftop HVAC units.  Teachers and staff were notified today.  We apologize to them and appreciate their patience, having had to repeatedly change their plans due to delays in construction--to the students, we thank them too for their patience and promise, the new school will be worth the wait!
Two pieces of great financial news this month.  First, we will received the first of two payments from the Intel Assabet Groundwater Recharge Fund in the amount of $200,000--this grant, largely written by Craig Martin (Stow Building Inspector, engineer and ESBC member), will offset the costs of a stormwater management system that is part of our LEED/CHPS rated building and has enormous impact on our watershed area, as it helps water stay on the site rather than run off into nearby streams and wetlands.  The final $100,000 will paid upon completition of the second phase of the system this spring.  Secondly, we are happy to report that the Mass School Building Authority has reimbursed the Town of Stow for more than 50% of the total grant.  We are also now in receipt of the adjusted contract, after our original bid came in nearly $5 million lower than our expected budget.  Below is a chart that highlights the changes.  The total cost of the project came down from the estimated nearly $38 million to $32.6 million.  Excluded from the MSBA reimbursement are such things as some site costs (they have a cap regardless of the specific nature of site issues, which in our case, are higher than average).  Of this $5 million, $300,00 was added to the excluded costs (this includes prior studies that were not fully reimbursed, but we still received more than we originally anticipated).  The Town's portion will be about $2.4 million

Original (6/10)
Revised (11/11)
Excluded value
MSBA share
MSBA reimb rate
Town share

How does this savings impact residents?  You will not be getting a refund on your tax bill!  Why?  Because you actually haven't been charged for the whole cost of the project yet.  These costs will be spread out over 20 years or so; the good news is that total cost is now $2.4 million lower than we'd presented to Town Meeting for approval.  We are very grateful to the State for paying just over half the cost of our school, and believe we are getting an excellent value and an excellent school.  Current schedule of completion of Phase 1 (the new portion that includes both classrooms and the cafeteria, gym and library/media center) is now expected at the end of January.  The final completion/move in date is still set for this summer of 2012 and the new school year will find all of Stow's elementary school children in the new Center School!

December 2011
As was reported in the Stow Independent, the project is behind schedule and we haven't hit the deadlines we had contracted for--luckily the weather is cooperating and things are moving ahead quickly--the 17th of January is the soonest we'll be moved into the new wing.  Meanwhile, with huge thanks to Jonathan Daisy, Kevin LaCoste, our school principal, leads us through a video tour of the school in progress.  View it by clicking on this link (or paste to your own browser):

November 2011
We're getting close to the finish line for Phase I--new photos by Paul Trunfio (above and in slideshow) give a visual representation of just how close we are!  Classrooms have shelves, storage, sinks, and cubbies in place; the playground with its "crazy" flag is set, and there is a new parking lot off Hartley Road.  We're on schedule for the move of 4th and 5th graders over the December/Holiday break.  Phase II, the renovation of the current Center School will start in January.  We hope to have an open house for the community in late January-stay tuned to the Stow Independent for details.

September 2011
Huge progress over the summer as the building has taken shape!  In spite of some crazy weather and very hot days, our Contractor PJ Stella has made up time and is doing extremely well on the timeline that will have us ready to move the 4th and 5th graders into the new "wing" after the holiday break in December.

June 2011
We're seeing even more progress as the walls start taking shape; inside rooms are being framed and staircases are being added!  The beam which was signed back in March is now finally in place. To left is a rendering of what the memorial to the Stone Building will look like, on the side of what is now the gym, visible from Great Road.  It is never "too late" to change the plan, but it will be costly as we mentioned at Town Meeting, and it will delay the school construction.  See our slides from Annual Town Meeting above.  If people want the complete information, much of it is posted here.  There are real architectural issues to the integrity of this building.  If anyone has further questions, please contact us at the above emails or phone numbers.  We have had a lot of information available over the last two years and are happy to to redistribute this as requested.
May 2011
As the weather has finally turned, the pace of the school building has increased.  The steel is up, with the final beam, the one signed by the children, put in place the first week of May.  That means the inside and structure of the building is really taking shape; on the outside one sees the beginning of walls.  Concrete has been poured on all levels, and masonry, electric and nearly all other subcontractors are actively onsite, installing the infrastructure of the building.  The Stella crew is working full days and frequent Saturdays to make up the pace, following the delays of the winter months.

March 2011
The steel is nearly complete!  The community is invited to join the school children on Thursday, March 17th for the "Topping Off" ceremony: everyone will get a chance to sign the final beam before it is put into place.  The ceremony will be at 9am followed by the beam signing over the next couple of hours.  We're waiting for the specific topping off time based on weather and schedules.

The ESBC co-chairs met with the Board of Selectmen on March 8 to review the status of the project and to go over the financials of the project.  This meeting is currently running on Stow TV.  A brief presentation will be made at Annual Town Meeting in May.

November 2010: Change is Daily

The Center School Project looks a bit like a child’s sandbox.  Mountains of dirt have been excavated, boulders have been piled, and tree stumps have been moved to clear the site for vehicles to move freely.  It is now November and the new building is outlined by the foundation it will stand on, the infiltration system has been fully installed, and the fire road for access around the building is clearly marked.  We are on schedule, even with the rain, due to the flexibility of all involved to work on different areas of the schedule to keep the project moving.  

The weekly construction meetings among the contractor, architect and school building committee representatives have gone a long way to develop a working partnership.  We have worked hard to keep the lines of communication open, discuss issues perceived or real noticed by anyone and have addressed hard questions to the point of resolution on a regular basis.  Fortunately, the Town has a good contract, very good eyes on the project with our OPM staff: Paul Griffin, Neil Joyce, and Glenn Davis, and our architectural team is on site regularly to compare the drawings to the actual.

Election Day voters and parents heading to Hale Middle School have probably observed the most activity with the construction of the retaining wall that will hold and hide the leach field and septic system once it is fully constructed.  With the recent rains it has been a challenge with some starts and stops but it now seems to be growing daily.  This will be finished before the end of November so that work on the system will be done in the spring.  There is also a parking lot for the contractors and subcontractors in this area which is much needed during the project.

In two weeks citizens will be able to see the steel start forming the outline of the gymnasium and cafeteria and rather quickly, the new classroom wing will be erected.  Once this is done, the crews will begin to close in the building.  Despite what certainly will be cold weather by this time, the work will continue.

The students have been kept informed of what’s going on behind the safety fences with visits from Glenn Davis, the Project Manager Clerk of the Works.  He has shown them pictures of the work and explained what those noises are they hear during class.  For the most part the loud noises, stone crushing and blasting, are done.  The bus loop has begun to take shape and the location of what will be the permanent staff parking lot is showing signs of becoming a reality.  

General Contractor is P.J. Stella Construction of Wakefield.  The total value of the contract is $23,640,900--approximately $5 million less than our original estimate, great news for the Town and taxpayers!

We will be posting monthly reports by our Project Manager which includes the construction timeline, budget status and other updates on the project.  A folder can be found above with the most current (October).  Any questions can be directed to either the Committee co-chairs or the Project Manager (CMS) office. The committee is only meeting monthly so minutes are not as available, given that we don't post them here until approved at a subsequent meeting.

RECESS is an organization that is raising funds for the school building, which will offset the burden to the taxpayers.  They have scheduled a number of upcoming events, and are writing several grants to area foundations.  To follow their activities, learn how to donate, or join in their efforts, visit

Please contact Ellen Sturgis, co-chair, if you have any questions.  Our meetings will be posted at Town Building and on this website (see Calendar).

This webpage will continue to contain the documents created by the School Building Task Force (March 2006-May 2007) and the previous Building Committee, which disbanded in January 2006.

Charge of the Committee as approved by Selectmen in July 2007:

Duties: Direct and oversee the renovation and addition to the Center School, as recommended by the School Building Task Force and approved by the residents of Stow in May 2007.  To include bringing a firm estimate of cost to Town Meeting for approval (expected May 2008*).  To include hiring design services, contractor and other professionals as required.  The Committee shall use the final report of the School Building Task Force as well as the Stow Schools Master Plan in their work.  Committee members will need to be versed in the requirements of the Mass. School Building Authority and ensure that the building project meets all the requirements for potential reimbursement.

Stow Town Building 380 Great Road, Stow, MA 01775
Phone: (978) 897-4514 Fax: (978) 897-4534
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