Saturday, March 3, 2012

A New FHS is the Best Choice

Dear Franklin Friend,
One question you may hear from residents considering whether to vote YES for the new FHS on March 27 is why building a new model school is a better choice than renovation.
It's important to remember that the Building Committee did look closely at two renovation options and discussed them with staff from the Massachusetts School Building Authority. After weighing all the options and after inspecting the current facility, the MSBA leadership and staff invited Franklin to participate in the model school program.
Here are four key reasons why:
·        A renovation would require substantial demolition. Many of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are buried inside the concrete slab foundation or masonry cinder block walls. A renovation project would have been more feasible and less costly if the existing FHS were built on a steel frame. A "gut renovation" is necessary to update these systems, bring the school into compliance with ADA requirements, and improve student navigation throughout the facility. Renovation would NOT have allowed for a new auditorium or improved educational space to meet 21st century academic standards.

·        Renovations often result in cost overruns due to unknown conditions revealed during demolition and construction.  With the key systems hidden in concrete and cinder block walls, unforeseen issues leading to unanticipated expenses would be highly likely in a renovation. New construction eliminates costly surprises.

·        Renovation would cause massive disruption to classes. During a renovation, students and teachers would attempt to learn in an active construction zone, including chaotic disruptions in routines, inaccessibility to certain areas, and revised routes through temporary structures.  Parts of the facility would close for significant periods of time. New construction will have no negative impact on learning.

·        Renovation would take a minimum of 3½ years while new construction will take only 2 years. With groundbreaking of the new FHS planned for fall of 2012, the facility will open in the fall of 2014. The current freshman class would complete their senior year in the new school.

The renovation options carried an estimated taxpayer cost of between $38 and $43 million -- with a much longer completion timetable, guaranteed classroom disruptions, and the risk of unforeseen construction challenges leading to unexpected charges. And, at the end of the renovation process, Franklin would not have anything resembling a 21st century facility — which we can now have for $47 million.
If the debt exclusion fails on March 27, we will lose the chance to build a brand new, fully furnished and equipped high school with a state reimbursement rate of 59.52%. Franklin would need to go back to the drawing board while taxpayers paid 100 percent of the cost of any work needed at the current building. There is no guarantee that the state will provide the same level financial support for a new school or a renovation. You can read the complete MSBA policy on failed debt exclusion votes here.
Franklin High has served our students, teachers and the community well for 40 years. In fact, the MSBA gave Franklin a higher reimbursement rate because of town's facility maintenance program. But the building is now suffering from four decades of heavy use, outdated systems and antiquated educational spaces and furnishings. There is a real need for a new facility and this is the right time to take advantage of a generous state reimbursement, and low borrowing and construction costs.
Seeing is believing. At 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, residents can take guided tours of the current Franklin High School. Then, at 7 p.m., you can hear firsthand from the experts and have your questions answered when the architect and the Building Committee hold a town-wide meeting on the project. Please make plans to attend this important event!
For more information on the March 27 vote, please our website at and "Like" and visit our Facebook page often for updates:

Please share this email with your friends, neighbors and social networks so that everyone understands the rationale for supporting the construction of a new FHS. Please email us at with any questions.
Voting YES is important. No one should take the outcome of the March 27 vote for granted.
Thank you!
Citizens for a New Franklin High School
Vote Yes for FHS on March 27! A Real Need. The Right Time.

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