Green Maynard applauds the Green Meadow School Building Committee for voting at its June 12th meeting to choose a geothermal HVAC system for the new building. We are eager and hopeful that they will see this commitment through to ensure a sustainable and economically sound building to serve Maynard children and the broader community for generations to come.
On July 7, members of Green Maynard met with several representatives of the school building committee to learn more about where the town is in the building process, what residents will be voting on at Town Meeting in October, and what happens after the vote. Here are some summary points.
Where we are right now:
• On June 21, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA)—which is providing $35 million in funding—approved the schematic design of the new building. This is the design in its “concept” phase—approximately 15% of the architect’s work. In this phase, final decisions include the project budget, site, and orientation of the new building. This is as far as the design team can go until they get approval from the town.
• Maynard residents will be asked to vote to approve the building of the new school. There are two parts to this process. At Town Meeting on October 10, 2023, voters will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” to approve the budget; it will need to pass by two-thirds of the registered voters physically present. The budget being presented includes the cost for geothermal and represents a maximum spend amount for the project. The final design and construction choices—as well as any federal and state rebates and incentives the project qualifies for—will determine the final cost. On November 7, 2023, polls will be open from 8 a.m.– 8 p.m. for the Debt Exclusion vote (the bond of the funding to build it).
If the town votes yes:
• If the town votes “yes,” the school building committee will complete the design (taking it from 15% to 100%) and seek bids for a general contractor to manage the building process.
• The goal is to break ground in spring/summer of 2025 and open the doors of the new school in 2027.
Is geothermal guaranteed?
• We are told that because of limitations in the approval process, it is not. The school building committee has said that preliminary geotech borings indicate the site of the existing school is suitable for drilling geothermal wells.
• We are told that the current schematic includes temporary gas-fired boilers, which will be housed in portable trailers and used while wells are dug for the geothermal system. This is subject to change based on additional information and availability. The building itself will be net-zero ready, as mandated by the new energy codes for all new buildings, both residential and commercial.
• The school building committee voted in favor of geothermal at their June 12th meeting, allowing the project to move forward with an increased budget to allow for geothermal. The full, upfront cost of the project must be approved by town vote. After the project is completed, the geothermal HVAC system and energy performance of the building will qualify the new Green Meadow Elementary School for state and federal rebates that can decrease the overall cost.
• At Town Meeting on May 15, residents voted in support of a recommendation that the new school operate without fossil fuels. Green Maynard is hopeful the school building committee will continue to heed the town’s expressed wishes.
If the town votes “no”:
• The town will need to spend approximately $34 million to bring the current school up to code. The current school will continue to run on fossil fuels, and as it stands now, does not meet the educational needs of students.
• The school building committee estimates that the town may have to wait 5–7 years before the MSBA considers Maynard again for funding.
Find out more:
• Green Meadow School Building is hosting a public community forum from 10 a.m.–noon at the current school (5 Tiger Drive) to provide tours and answer questions.