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

Remember that the school was designed through a thoughtful visioning process that included students, educators, and families. The District then developed a comprehensive Education Plan as required by the DESE and MSBA, and the design has evolved from the underlying guiding principles contained in that plan.

The programmatic spaces in the design reflect the District’s detailed Educational Plan, which is a requirement of participating in the MSBA grant program. The MSBA takes the compilation of an Educational Plan very seriously given that it serves as the foundation for all the planning and detailed design of both the school and the site that follows. In Foster’s case, the MSBA carefully reviewed the District’s initial Educational Plan and requested clarifications and refinements. In the end, it was approved only after two detailed reviews by the MSBA. Only then was the District allowed to proceed into the schematic design phase via an MSBA Board of Directors vote.

No two MSBA-funded elementary schools look the same, though they all must conform to MSBA Guidelines and approved modifications. The new school design followed prescriptive MSBA guidelines for elementary schools, but like all other MSBA projects, it includes a limited amount of additional programmatic spaces to meet the unique needs of Hingham’s  Educational Program (e.g. the Gymnasium bleachers, the Multi-Purpose Room for KIA and Field Science, Administrative Spaces for the Special Education program, etc.).  The entire design being presented to the voters has been reviewed and approved by the MSBA.

The total square footage of the proposed Foster building is 126,385. 

As noted above, the MSBA has prescriptive guidelines for building elementary schools including the sizes and types of various rooms. Some of the space design can vary depending on the District’s specific educational program. There is allowable square footage (most of which is reimbursable, some of which is not) in the design to accommodate some areas beyond MSBA guidelines including additional administrative and special education space, Pre-K classrooms, space for an expanded KIA program and a larger gym to provide wider sidelines and space for fan bleachers. 

The MSBA provides a ‘broad brush’ square footage allotment per pupil in a District’s Space Summary (e.g., 605 K-5 pupils) by way of an algorithm, but it is only generated to set a parameter against which to review and finalize the eventual square footage required to accommodate the proposed Educational Program. It is safe to say that every elementary school approved by the MSBA has exceeded this ‘starting point.’  

As an example, the 63,843 square feet of ‘net program space’ that came out of the MSBA’s algorithm for Foster was based on 605 K-5 students, a generic Special Education program, and no Pre-Kindergarten program. The approved net square footage, accommodating the District’s Educational Plan is 84,753. Reimbursable program-related overages include 11,850 sf for five Pre-Kindergarten CR’s, a Spanish CR, an English Language Learners small group room, and a Computer Lab, along with synchronizing up the number of classrooms per grade. Other approved programmatic square footage includes 3,690 sf for the school’s Special Education program (all of which is reimbursable), 1,000 sf for the aforementioned gymnasium bleachers, 1,570 sf for Special Education administrative offices, 2,500 sf for the revenue-generating Kids-in-Action multi-purpose room and office, and two other small staff spaces. When mechanical, circulation, and other ‘back of house’ areas are accounted for, the Foster school has a ‘net to gross’ ratio of 1.49 (bringing the proposed gross square footage up to its 126,385), which is under the MSBA allowable ratio of 1.50, demonstrating an efficient plan layout.

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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?