Letter: The facts — state funding for the new middle school

February 14, 2023

Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation and accusatorial insinuation in this subject has been circulating on social media. Some are asserting that a lavish or poorly executed design is why funding was denied. Others are suggesting that the town or the building committee did not try hard enough to secure this funding assistance. Both are inaccurate. 

First of all, only about 20% of school projects that apply receive any money. And the grants are NOT need blind, meaning the state takes into account various circumstances, including how much funding has been awarded to a town previously. 

It should also be noted that the application process happens BEFORE the building is designed, meaning this has nothing to do with the state’s decision-making on funding. 

The information many are speculating about can be found simply by looking at the towns site for the Middle School Building Committee, in a FAQ document. To quote:

“Why are we not participating in the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Process? 

Concord Public Schools submitted a Statement of Interest (SOI) to the MSBA 4 consecutive years (2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020) and has not been offered a place in the program. An analysis was performed by the School Department to understand “the cost of waiting.” Due to the Town’s estimated low reimbursement rate that would result in a relatively low MSBA grant participation, and the rising cost of construction and the unknown year in which Concord might be admitted to the program, it was determined it would be less costly to start the project now without the MSBA funding than wait.

[Note: Past responses from the MSBA acknowledged the need for the Middle School project but other applicants were determined to have a greater need. As such, there were insufficient funds available to include Concord Middle School in the grant program. Also, Concord has received MSBA grant funds for three (3) prior projects].”

Source. https://www.concordps.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/CMS-Building-Project-FAQ-for-Hearing.pdf

So, the town tried 4 times in 4 consecutive years and was denied 4 times. Given this, it’s easy to see how it was clear to those involved that State funding help was not forthcoming. Waiting longer would have only meant further delay and additional cost. And this brings us to this Thursday. 

Remember, a YES vote is recommended by both our Select Board and Fincom because they have concluded that a no vote will mean further delay and expense that will cost all Concord taxpayers MORE, not less. 

Please VOTE YES this Thursday 2/16, so we can avoid $5.5m in new fees and 6-9 months of additional new delay while construction costs keep rising on a project forged by 3+ years of community input and involvement. Put simply, voting yes will cost less. 

Wilson Kerr

West Concord