On February 21, 2024

Agency of Ed endorses plan to build new Woodstock school

Qualifies project as eligible for state aid, once reinstated as expected

The state Agency of Education (AOE) has endorsed Mountain Views Supervisory Union’s (MVSU) plans for its new middle/high school construction project. This decision qualifies the project for construction aid upon the state’s reinstatement of the program.

“The Capital Outlay Financing Formula (COFF) establishes the maximum and minimum square foot parameters by school size (student capacity) and grade range, through a square foot allowance per student or program. The formula also establishes the allowable cost per square foot for construction… A review of the information submittals has confirmed that minimum square footages have been met for all program and service spaces in the proposed design,” wrote AOE School Facilities Program Manager Bob Donohue in the state’s enforcement letter, Feb. 16

On Town Meeting Day, March 5, voters in the MSVU School district will vote on a bond for $99 million to finance the new school.

The AOE’s decision underscores MVSU’s School Board’s dedicated efforts over the past eight years to align our project with the current objectives outlined in the “Vermont Educational Priorities,” according to the district school’s news release. These priorities, outlined by the State Construction Aid Task Force in its February 1 report to the House and Senate Education Committees, emphasize equity, quality, and clear mandate for “Newer and Fewer” Vermont school buildings.

The MVSU board highlighted points of importance in the AOE report, which included:

Consistency with state objectives

The AOE’s decision affirms that this project aligns with the objectives outlined by the state construction aid task force. This includes the vision for “Newer and Fewer” school buildings, validating the district board’s belief that MVSU should maintain a middle/high school serving as a hub for regional school consolidation.

Strategic decision for renewal

The AOE’s endorsement validates the School Board’s strategic decision to replace our existing school building, avoiding investment in a facility assessed with a facility conditions index (FCI) of 96.7% in 2022. This decision aligns with the task force standards, where the threshold for renovation projects is an FCI of 65%.

Financial impact

This endorsement opens the doors to state funding. This financial support will significantly reduce the tax burden on our district’s homeowners, addressing the delicate balance between the welfare of our children and the affordability of our homes.

Further, the school district’s plan to defer bond repayment for 3 1/2 years offers a strategic window for the state to identify and deploy funds to support the project. “Being one of very few projects across the state ready to receive such support puts our district in an advantageous position,” the board stated.

“MVSU is grateful for the AOE’s recognition of our commitment to educational excellence and responsible community planning. As voters head to the polls on Town Meeting Day on March 5, we hope that the state’s renewed commitment to address school construction will incentivize voters. We look forward to the next steps in bringing this longtime project to fruition and providing a safe and secure school for our children,” said Sherry Sousa, MVSU’s superintendent.  

For more info, visit: mtnviews.org/breaking-new-ground.

 

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