Is this a suitable time to build as construction costs have increased significantly since the middle school was built, and cost per square footage is far more than Public Safety building?

It’s difficult to compare the two building projects. The school building will be significantly larger than the Public Safety building and is being constructed on a particularly challenging site that contains several physical constraints and natural resource areas that need to be protected. The school will have specifically designed spaces to accommodate and support 21st century learning for a design enrollment of 605 K-5 students, plus a pre-K population and Kids-in-Action programming. A sizable portion of the Public Safety facility will be garage bays that will house fire trucks and ambulances. The level of detailed design between the two is not comparable. 

If not now, when? Construction costs will never again be as low as they were 10 years ago, and they won’t be decreasing any time soon according to the professional cost estimators engaged to work on our project. Hingham has been awarded a significant grant to pursue the building project now. If the community does not vote to fund the project, Hingham loses that contribution and the opportunity to address the significant issues that have impacted Foster students and staff for many years. To be considered for an MSBA project grant in the future, Hingham would have to go back to the beginning and start the process again, which could take 5 years or even longer and there’s no guaranty we would be chosen again. 

The reality is that this school project needed to be done over a decade ago. The 2006 School Facilities Study recommended the pursuit of a project to address the then-existing issues that negatively impacted the delivery of curriculum. In the ensuing years, mechanical systems have continued to deteriorate and falter, requiring costly repairs and even evacuation of the building. 

Given the condition of Foster, can we afford to wait any longer? We also now have grant funding from MSBA. Are we willing to risk waiting and lose the opportunity to save Hingham taxpayers tens of millions of dollars? If we were to choose to wait and pursue a project independent of the MSBA, it would be no less costly, and we would lose even more time while students and staff wait for a solution. If the Foster building project does not move forward now, the Town would also have to invest significantly in the upkeep, maintenance, and repair of the current Foster building. 

The overwhelming feedback from constituents questioned was that it is important to the Crow Point neighborhood, as well as nearby neighborhoods, to keep Foster and its successor a neighborhood school that allows for a walking community of students. The school will also include a gymnasium, cafetorium, multi-purpose room, softball field, and tennis courts that are all a benefit to the wider community. In addition, the new building will provide for an expansion of the integrated preschool program, which will allow enhanced early childhood education for the whole community. Space in the new school will also allow the expansion of the Kids-in-Action (KIA) program providing much needed additional space for this popular and revenue-generating before and after-school program.

Show All Answers

1. What is the Foster School Building Project?
2. What is the Foster School Building Committee?
3. What is the MSBA?
4. What is the benefit of working with the MSBA?
5. How is our community included in this process?
6. What are the different phases of the project and how long will each phase, including construction, take?
7. What is the value of rebuilding the Foster School to people who either don’t live in the Foster district or don’t have children in the Hingham Public Schools?
8. When will the construction start and end? When would students be in the new school?
9. My child is at Foster. Will he/she need to move to a different school during construction?
10. What will happen to the athletic fields and tennis courts during construction?
11. Was a traffic study done? How will traffic be managed during construction?
12. How was the enrollment number determined? Does the new enrollment number allow for growth?
13. What is the potential base reimbursement rate from the MSBA for this project? How was the rate determined?
14. How will this new building support Hingham’s climate action planning efforts and the Town’s goal of reducing our fossil fuel use and carbon emissions?
15. I understand that Foster School is next to wetlands and in a flood zone. What will be done to mitigate the risk of flooding and protect the environmentally sensitive areas surrounding the school?
16. Is this a suitable time to build as construction costs have increased significantly since the middle school was built, and cost per square footage is far more than Public Safety building?
17. What costs does the MSBA not cover? Should we be adding components that have been excluded by MSBA? Is it prudent to build when costs are ineligible?
18. What will Foster look like compared to new elementary schools in surrounding towns? What is the square footage of new school and how does it compare to sq ft/ student at other schools in town (& MSBA
19. What additional operational costs will there be relating to the new elementary school? Is there an estimate of operational cost savings delivered by energy or other efficiencies built into the...
20. For tuition-based programming (i.e., KIA, etc.), if programming is increased, will costs be covered?
21. Would we look at redistricting the other elementary schools to ensure class sizes are comparable across the four elementary schools?
22. Will out-of-district tuition go down as a result of Special Ed programming at the new elementary school? Will additional SPED programming built into the facility enable more students to stay in...
23. Do we have to fully open at the opening of the new school or is it possible to increase over time, i.e., staffing and furniture/fixtures.
24. What process did you go through to determine the building configuration and placement on the site?
25. Is there a deeper explanation, other than inflation, of the cost estimate increase over the past 6 months even though the design is largely the same?