TRITON REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT — The team from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) toured the high school and middle school buildings this month to determine if the state agency will accept the school district as a partner.
“It was a great visit, and we spent 2.5 hours talking and walking the building, showing and speaking to the needs that exist,” Superintendent Brian Forget said. “I feel great about the process, and they are now very clear on the need.”
The district and its three towns – Newbury, Rowley and Salisbury – must now wait until early December to hear if the MSBA accepts Triton’s application. Forget is cautiously optimistic that Triton will be accepted because of less competition this year for MSBA funds, which come from a portion of the sales tax.
“There’s only so much money, and they choose the neediest recipients each year,” Forget wrote in an email. “We know the number of applicants was lower (54), but now we hope that the needs were more in line with ours and not a group of buildings that have extraordinary needs that make ours pale in comparison.”
When Pine Grove Elementary School in Rowley competed for state assistance in its total overhaul several years ago, the district competed against 98 other projects across the state.
“One in 54 versus one in 98. I like those odds,” Forget said recently.
A study of the 286,000-square-foot building by Habeeb & Associates Architects of Worcester last year concluded that repairs to the buildings would cost more than $63 million and are increasing about 4 percent per year.
If Triton is welcomed in, the quasi-independent state agency, which is funded by a dedicated revenue stream of one penny of every dollar of the state’s 6.25-percent sales tax, could pay a significant portion, maybe more than half, of the costs of the renovations.
MSBA funded a little more than 52 percent of the eligible costs to renovate Pine Grove.
One of the next steps is determining how best to pay for a required feasibility study that would likely cost up to $1.5 million. Forget said the School Committee’s finance subcommittee and Triton administration are working this fall with local town officials to determine how best to fund that study.
Forget and finance director Kyle Warne will present a plan to the district’s finance subcommittee on Oct. 27 on how the district might fund the first phase of the feasibility study. The full committee will meet on the funding in November, and the district leaders will share the plan with town officials in December, along with news he hopes that the district is accepted into the program, Forget wrote.