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Teenage Students Raising Hands


MSBA Process & Terminology


What will the project cost?

What is the MSBA and how much grant money have they approved for the project?

The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) is a quasi-independent government authority created to reform the process of funding capital improvement projects in the Commonwealth’s public schools. The MSBA receives hundreds of applications for funding assistance from cities, towns and regional school districts across the commonwealth yearly and due to funding deficiencies, is only able to select a handful of school projects, based upon relative need. The MSBA strives to work with local communities to create affordable, sustainable, and energy efficient schools across Massachusetts. Learn more on the MSBA’s website here

The maximum amount that the MSBA will contribute for this project will be determined at the conclusion of the Schematic Design phase. It should be noted that not all project costs are eligible for reimbursement by the MSBA. There are opportunities for additional incentive points that could increase the base reimbursement rate. The incentive points will be developed and evaluated when the final building solution is selected.

How can the local community keep informed and/or be involved as this project progresses?

  • Project website

  • Attend community presentation meetings and provide feedback

  • Attend School Building Committee meetings

Will construction of the renovated, addition/renovation or new school building impact students' classroom experience?

Disruption to the existing school’s operations is one of the key criteria to be considered in selecting the project’s construction option during the Feasibility Study phase. The selected option will be evaluated based on potential impact to the existing school operations. The design team will look for the least impactful option to the student community and building occupants when selecting the most appropriate building solution. 

Can the Town increase the project scope and budget after obtaining  approval to move forward with the building project?

At the end of the Schematic Design phase, the selected building project is brought to the community for financial support. At this point, the project scope and budget has been thoroughly vetted by the Town, the project team and the MSBA. As part of the MSBA process, the Town must formally agree to the total project cost, schedule, project scope and size, student enrollment, and other factors that could influence the overall project cost, prior to seeking community support. The MSBA Grant Funding Process is designed to lock in the project cost and scope in order to prevent cost increases in the refinement of the project as it moves toward construction. When the project is under construction, the budget will contain standard and appropriate contingency funds to help avoid budget overrun. 

What funding has already been approved by the town for the Feasibility Study Phase?

At Burlington's hybrid town meeting on February 16th, 2022, voters passed Article 11 approving $1.5 million in funding for the Fox Hill project's feasibility study. The feasibility study includes hiring a consultant team (Owner's Project Manager and a Designer), to assist the town in developing the most fiscally responsible and educationally appropriate solution to create a safe, sound, and sustainable learning environment. The Massachusetts School Building Authority has accepted the project into it's core program, and thus has agreed to reimburse the town roughly 45.5% of eligible project costs.

What will happen to Pine Glen?

The MSBA is requiring Burlington to explore the feasibility of having either 3 elementary schools or 4 elementary schools. The feasibility study will explore the costs and benefits associated with each.

What are the stakes for that are in the ground on Vincent Road? Will there be any changes to Vincent Road?

No stakes were put in by the project. There have been no discussion or intent to making any changes to Vincent Road.

Is there a formal timeline showing 18 months of the project?

The project schedule shown through the end of construction/closeout is on the project website and can be found on the homepage and official documents.

If it is decided to do a 325 enrollment Fox Hill School, and decided to do the Pine Glen School 10-15 years later, is there a chance for MSBA reimbursement?

It is our understanding should Town of Burlington not choose to include Pine Glen as part of this project the MSBA will not participate in any future expansion/construction to the school.

Have you studied a parking deck with two levels or a covered deck which can support solar panels?

We have not studied a parking deck at this point. As part of the PSR process we can discuss this option with the SBC.

In what other neighboring towns/cities do larger elementary schools exist?

• Maria Hastings Elementary School-645 students, 110,000 sf (Lexington) k-5
• Thomas Ditson Elementary School-738 students, 105,000 sf (Billerica) k-5
• Lt. Job Lane Elementary School-564 students, 80,580 sf (Bedford) 3-5
• Bancroft Elementary School-469 students, 67,600 sf (Andover) k-5

• West Elementary School-677 students, 94,000 sf (Andover) PK-5

From the taxpayer impact information that was shared with the SBC/Community, is it an annual or a one-time cost impact?

The impact information that was shared is based on an annual payment to taxpayers until the bond is paid out.

Why are we required to study a consolidated Fox Hill and Pine Glen school?

In 2020 the Statement of Interest included consideration of studying a consolidated 

Assuming the community decides to move forward with single school option. Would the town need to do a proposition 2 ½ override to pay for a second elementary school. Is there a plan to address this if a prop 2 ½ override does not pass?

If a debt exclusion (a form of a 2.5% override) does not pass, we would need to find another way to fund the project at 100% of the cost and MSBA would withdraw their participation.

Has there been an analysis done on repairing Pine Glen as opposed to replacing it?

No, a repair only has not been studied as part of this process because it is not in the purview of the MSBA project. We have explored Option 7 which is a renovation/addition.

How many millions would the town lose from the state if they don’t go with the two schools done at the same time. What’s the difference between debt exclusion and debt override?

We expect to receive roughly $25 million for the single school option or we could receive $39 million for the two schools on one property for a difference of $14 million from the MSBA. A debt exclusion would raise taxes for a fixed period of time while a debt override would raise them permanently.

I would like to see a discussion of the relative costs of the two primary options on a residential tax bill basis. From what I can figure, the cost difference on residential tax bills between combined school and two separate schools is $200/year. That’s only 2.8% of the average $7,000 tax bill, $50 added to the $1,750 quarterly bill.

Per Ways and Means:
The two primary options being discussed in the scope of the feasibility study with MSBA are at Fox Hill. The estimates were included in the August 1st, Mtg #13 presentation, page 28. The difference in the impact on the average residential rate is $233 vs $335 = $102 for 3a) a single 325 enrollment school vs 6b) a combined 640 enrollment school Two separate schools are not in the scope of the current agreement with the MSBA. The estimates for a combined school vs two separate schools $335 vs $510 = $175 The primary concern from a financial point of view is the total impact on the tax rates in future years taking into consideration the significant capital projects under consideration in the next few years.


How many students will be at Fox Hill if they only have 3-4 classrooms per grade. How will they be able to maintain the small school model that Burlington has become known for. If the school increases to 640 students does the classrooms per grade increase? Is there going to be a town wide redistricting.  

Town wide redistricting may occur with or without new buildings. Redistricting examines where the classrooms and students are across Town and attempts to distribute students as evenly as possible for as long a time as possible. There are events that can cause redistricting, like a new housing development, apartment complex, or a new school. But redistricting is ultimately driven by students.

The framing of Burlington is that the elementary schools are known for small class sizes. There are currently about 16 classrooms per elementary grade across Town. Programs, however, can change over time as well as the addresses associated with populating a particular school. We state about 16 classrooms because there are grades that have more students than other grades depending on the enrollment that year. Francis Wyman currently has 4, grade 5 classrooms although they typically have 5. In other words, there may be 15 grade 5 classrooms across the district this year and 17, grade 2 classrooms.


Please know that we deal with these shifts in numbers and enrollment every year. We will adjust to a single Fox Hill or a combined Fox Hill/Pine Glen in the same way we make adjustments every year currently. The district looks at all classrooms across all schools when making classroom or redistricting decisions. 


The intention of the Fox Hill/Pine Glen is to have it operate as two separate schools. In this model, the six, grade 5 classrooms could be divided into separate wings of the building acting as two, 3 classroom schools. The combined school would act like a duplex or a two family house with some shared common areas, like a kitchen that is designed to be big enough to feed everyone. Each family would maintain their own dining areas but they would save by cooking meals together using one set of appliances. In either a single Fox Hill or a combined Fox Hill/Pine Glen the intention would be to maintain small class sizes. Our goal is to maintain an average class size of 18 students per class at the elementary level across Town.

Asked for Dr. Conti to provide some numbers on what are the numbers that DESE profiles are representing. According to DESE profiles there were 428 students at fox hill last year, and wanted to know whether it includes LABBB students. Asked if the Pine Glen enrollment included DSC students. Asked what is included in the enrollment numbers, and what is the difference between enrollment and capacity. Would like to see a comparison across the different schools with these numbers. 

The chart below outlines our current total elementary enrollment. The district has maintained approximately an 18:1 ratio at each of the elementary schools.

Programmatic Capacity
I would refer to the roughly 18:1 enrollments as the "programmatic capacity."  We do not include any LABBB students in our state enrollment numbers.  DSC Students are included in our state enrollment numbers because they are Burlington residents (see previous slide).  We are placing them in a district program because of their learning profile. 

Enrollment Capacity
Enrollment capacity at the elementary level is measured across all four elementary schools.  There are 98 "homerooms" across the district currently in use.  The enrollment capacity, given our objective of 18 students per homeroom, would be 1,764 students (98 classrooms x 18 students per classroom).  We create elementary attendance zones to distribute students as evenly as possible across the four elementary schools to maintain the roughly 18:1 student to teacher ratios.

New Fox Hill Options: 

Option 3 "as modeled” includes 18 homerooms plus 10 additional full-size classrooms for literacy, district (DSC) and LABBB programming.

Programmatic Enrollment - 325 (as defined by MSBA allowing Burlington to use 18 students per classroom).  This program usage leaves 10 additional full-size classrooms for literacy, LABBB programming, and DSC programming.

Enrollment Capacity - The Option 3 model contributes 18 full sized classrooms plus an additional 10 full sized classrooms (for a total of 28 classrooms). Therefore, the enrollment/contractual capacity could remain roughly the same as the current Fox Hill in the scenarios summarized above depending on LABBB program building placement and DSC program growth and building placement.  Both of these programs are slated for placement in the New Fox Hill School for the immediate future.


Public comment asked for the raw criteria matrix results to be posted
Raw criteria matrix results are posted on the project website


I am wondering what format the members of the committee are using to share their thoughts, plans and stands on the proposals for the new school building. At tonight’s meeting there was no discussion from any of the members which made 
sense in the format, but I am curious how each member is sharing their stand on these plans. How is the committee planning on involving more that the fox hill and pine glen neighborhood as the building will impact the entire town. The impact as you 
are aware is both financial as well as effecting enrollment in all of the elementary schools The audience was primarily the two neighborhoods, and the larger Burlington community needs to be involved due to the impacts resulting in this decision.
I also believe that there needs to be a nontechnology based system to communicate thoughts and feelings about the plan as there is a large population on seniors in both the impacted neighborhoods and town. Is the school committee not involved in the plan for obtaining full thoughts from all of the Burlington community. Technology based systems can be a method of excluding the older population.


The SBC members have expressed their opinions in the SBC meetings. Because of Open Meeting Law, they were unable to directly comment on or dispute public opinions presented during SBC meetings. The Community Meeting on Oct. 18th was intended for public comment, not SBC member comment. Also, the Community Meetings in July and September were intended to involve more of the public without the technology concern raised here.

As you point out, there are impacts to all of Burlington students and residents. The Thought Exchange experience was intended to involve more than the Fox Hill and Pine Glen neighborhoods. Some SBC members spoke with people from other neighborhoods, who often had a different opinion about the best way forward for our school district. However, since there is more impact on the FH and PG neighborhoods, those residents have been the most passionate and involved in our meetings and in the Thought Exchange.

I'm worried about flooding.

It would be important to understand the context of this concern, however stormwater management will be incorporated into the design of the building and site. The flow of water off site will not exceed the rate that it currently occurs. The new school will not negatively impact the site or the neighboring properties.

Will my house be redistricted?

Town wide redistricting may occur with or without new buildings. Redistricting examines where the classrooms and students are across Town and attempts to distribute students as evenly as possible for as long a time as possible. There are events that can cause redistricting, like a new housing development, apartment complex, or a new school. But redistricting is ultimately driven by students.



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