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East Somerville Community School Construction Resumes in November

In the face of financing problems, construction will move ahead on the school that burned down in 2007.

Construction work on the East Somerville Community School will resume during the first week of November, and the school is scheduled to open in September, 2013, according to the city.

Work on the school, which burned down in December, 2007, was stalled in September when gap to move ahead with the project.

To finance the shortfall, the city has found ways to save money on materials used in construction, and it's also counting on energy savings at the building, according to Michael Meehan, a spokesperson for Somerville.

According to a slide show presented to the Board of Aldermen Finance Committee on Oct. 5, some of those construction changes include changing wood panels to metal simulated-wood panels, switching to more affordable ceiling tiles, reversing "the masonry from running bond to soldier course to save on fasteners," and other things.

The presentation emphasizes these changes don't change "the scope of the project."

The city also plans to work with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which provided $15.3 million for the project, to "examine creative financing options," according to the presentation.

The Finance Committee presentation says the city would borrow an "additional $5 million to ensure timely completion of [the] project," but Meehan said, "We don't need to borrow anything at the moment to move ahead with [construction]."

He said any votes from the Board of Aldermen on borrowing more would be a few years from now.

Meehan also said the city would have a more concrete sense of costs and savings in a few months.

"It's a solvable problem; we've got multiple ways to peel this onion," he said of financing the project.

It's been nearly four years since the school burned down, and right now East Somerville "is a neighborhood without a vital community center in it," Meehan said, emphasizing the importance of getting the project done.

Amanda Kersey October 13, 2011 at 12:36 PM
The superintendent brought up in Tuesday night's School Committee meeting that the district pays a good deal of money to rent space in the Tufts Administrative Building to run SCALE, the adult education program. He said the district would like to move the program out of the building to free up money for the construction of the East Somerville Community School. However, he said, that's not possible because there's not enough space in any of the school buildings to accommodate the students.

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