Lincoln schools target big-ticket projects

Lincoln schools target big-ticket projects

Athletic center, concession stand, among goals

LINCOLN – Among the projects Lincoln school leaders are looking to invest in are a new student athletic center and concession stand, relocating the school district’s administrative offices, selling Fairlawn School and a potential addition to Lonsdale Elementary.

There are stipulations involved with each, but school officials doubled-down on their commitment to the list of goals during Monday’s School Committee meeting. The ultimate objective, they said, is to complete the projects with little to no additional taxpayer funding.

The town is expecting to have about $6.7 million in reimbursement funds available to spend as a result of the Lincoln High School renovation/construction project. Bond premium money is being earmarked for each of the following projects, except for the concession stand and Fairlawn School sale.

Student athletic center and concession stand

One of the top priorities is to construct a student athletic center/field house at Lincoln High School. The district is currently working with RGB Architects and Colliers International on the plans for the new sporting complex.

“We think we have almost a finalized schematic of what we’d like to see in there, with input from the athletic director and physical education department,” Supt. Larry Filippelli said.

“This is definitely a need for the high school,” said School Committee Chairman Joseph Goho, particularly with the loss of the second gym at LHS last year.

In a separate project, officials hope to build a new concession stand at Ferguson Field. Filippelli said building a concession stand at LHS has been a longtime goal of the district, predating his time as superintendent. “We’re trying to include that in capital planning so we can finally meet the needs of the community, students and spectators,” he said.

Administrative office relocation

By moving the district’s administrative offices from the former Lincoln Memorial School on Lonsdale Avenue to the LHS campus, Filippelli said the district is eligible for extra reimbursement points from the state added to the overall project reimbursement.

The admin space at LHS is currently being fit out, and Filippelli said there would be “more conversations to come” about the move.

Some of the planned offices have been made smaller to accommodate for storage spaces that can be turned into classrooms if the school’s population rises in the future.

“If the high school numbers get to a spot where we need extra classrooms, those spaces could be quickly turned over into classroom spaces, so we have a little bit of breathing room,” he said.

Goho said having the “flex” space is important, noting that the most recent population projections show an expected enrollment increase, bringing the number of students at LHS to more than 1,000. The high school is currently being reconfigured to accommodate roughly 850, he said.

“The fact that the admin wing will be able to accommodate this forecasted influx is important and hopefully it will be enough,” he said.

Potential Lonsdale addition

Lincoln is considering an expansion to Lonsdale Elementary School as part of the district’s five-year visioning plan, Filippelli said. The work is on pause for now so that RGB can engage a demographer to reassess the district’s needs.

“Before we think about an addition on any of our schools, we want to be sure the demographics will support it and that this is the right decision for the town,” he said.

The town could also opt to reconfigure all of its elementary schools in the future to create one early childhood center (pre-K through grade 2) and three upper schools for grades 3-5.

Filippelli said the district looked at many options during its five-year visioning planning last summer, including exploring the possibility of moving 5th grade to the middle school. Ultimately, he said that option was vetted out and determined not to be the best, mainly due to the lack of space at the middle school.

“There was a large projected influx of students over the last couple of years, but coming from everywhere, not just Lonsdale,” Filippelli clarified. If the school were expanded, some students would need to be redistricted there.

Moving more students to Lonsdale makes the most sense, he said, because the school has room for more buses.

Sale of Fairlawn School

Filippelli said officials are awaiting the results of the property evaluation at the former Fairlawn Elementary School, which is under lease by Blackstone Valley Prep Academy.

The town is moving forward with the sale of the school to BVP, with proceeds from the sale coming back to the school district.

Filippelli said the hope is to put the funds toward any addition that needed to be done in the district.

“We want to really think about what we’re doing before we do it,” Filippelli said. “Do we need an addition or do we not? Can we look at all of our buildings and redesign, refresh and reallocate space to meet the needs of our students?”

He said the conversations are “big picture” for now, but that “things are coming together fast,” even with the pandemic.

School business manager John McNamee said premiums on the sale of the LHS bonds are expected to be around $6.7 million, of which roughly $600,000 has been set aside for furniture, fixtures and equipment at LHS.

About $1.8 million will be used for the administration wing, leaving roughly $4.3 million to spend on the above projects, to be leveraged with RIDE reimbursements.

McNamee said there may be some funds leftover to go toward the concession stand, but that’s dependent on the amount of reimbursement the district does receive from the state. The other option would be to include the project in a capital request to the town.

Comments

Perhaps they should remove the paint from the windows and install new blinds or shades at Lonsdale.