Special election for LHS bond referendum this fall gets local go-ahead

Special election for LHS bond referendum this fall gets local go-ahead

LINCOLN – Unanimous agreement by Town Council members Tuesday means voters will be asked to decide in a special election in November whether to fund a $60 million reconstruction of Lincoln High School.

Still needed before ballots may be printed is General Assembly approval and the state Department of Education’s go-ahead that will provide partial funding.

The LHS renovation committee, composed of town and school officials and parents, had been working on plans for about two years before selecting their chosen proposal: an addition-renovation project.

The project is about 40 percent new construction and 60 percent renovation, and Town Administrator Joseph Almond says it’s the largest building project Lincoln has seen in about 50 years.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Town Council also voted to send the resolution to state representatives from Lincoln, so they could familiarize themselves with it in advance of the General Assembly vote.

The LHS plan, which was approved by the council, School Committee and renovation board, includes moving the circa-1927 central administration building at 1624 Lonsdale Ave. to the LHS campus for approximately $1.8 million.

As reported previously by The Breeze, town officials considered the building a financial strain because of its age and construction.

Should taxpayers give the project the go-ahead, construction is slated to begin in January 2019 and continue through May 2021.

Summer months will be used by construction crews to finish a majority of the work, and come September 2021, the renovated school is expected to open with new dining commons, and outdoor amphitheater, a media center, large group instruction spaces, teacher planning areas and improved labs and classrooms.

Lincoln’s Class of 2022 – today’s 7th-graders – would be the first to graduate from the renovated school after spending their senior year in the completed building.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Bruce Ogni, who serves on both the council and LHS committee, thanked the renovation board for its work pushing the project forward, though he said that task was “rough at times.”

The LHS renovation panel faced a number of challenges, including working with Symmes Maini & McKee Associates consultants after project costs came in at $66 million, about $7 million over what the group had said the town could handle financially.

After a weekend of examining the cost estimates, the LHS renovation panel brought the total back down to $59 million.

As it stands now, the LHS building is made up of structures that date to the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

The newest space in the building was finished in 1997.