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Smith School Project FAQ’s

It is the job of the Construction Manager to supervise and direct various operations within a building project. A Construction Manager must ensure a project is being constructed to the highest levels of safety and quality while making sure the project runs on time and within the allocated budget allowance.

The Construction Manager selected for the Smith Elementary Project is W.T. Rich Company, Inc. W.T. Rich has been providing construction services to various public and private organizations throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for over 50 years. W.T. Rich has a robust portfolio of K-12 projects. Some of their most recent accomplishments are Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School, Clark Avenue Middle School, King Open School, Boston Collegiate Charter School, Angier Elementary School, West Parish School and Zervas Elementary School.

Smith Budget - Total & To Date

*This reflects total project costs, not the Town of Danvers share.

Please refer to the existing conditions reports in the “Documents and Presentations” Tab for more details. Overall, the District’s goal is to have an equitable school facility at Smith Elementary School compared to our other four elementary schools.

Physical Issues:

  • Two-story building constructed in 1973
  • No major renovations in forty-five years
  • Exterior walls, roof and HVAS all at end of useful life
  • Building design (“open classroom”) does not support 21st century learning

Educational Issues:

  • No performing arts area
  • Classroom sizes small than the average at other elementary schools in Danvers
  • “Open classroom” design:
    • Conflicts with educational programming & 21st century learning
    • Does not provide proper noise reduction between adjacent areas
    • Poses potential security threat
    • Students in grades K – 2 need to be relocated while grades 3-5 take MCAS/PARCC exams
  • Outdated electrical system affects number of computer projectors, and technology that can be used at one time

Location/Orientation Issues:

  • No emergency egress road around the building
  • Parking on site is extremely limited and on-street parking must be used daily
  • Cars, busses and students share the parking area which creates a safety concern during student drop-off and pick-up
  • Flooding of lower areas has occurred during heavy rain events


The MSBA requires the design team to analyze the following options for each project: Renovation, Addition/Renovation, or New Construction.

  • The Renovation option was estimated at roughly $20.6 million total project cost; however, the renovated building would still have many of the same challenges of the existing and would not be large enough for 465 students without an addition. The disruptions to students associated with a renovation or addition/renovation would be significant.
  • The Add/Reno option was estimated at roughly $55.3 million total project cost.
  • The New Construction option is estimated at roughly $52 million total project cost and was determined by the Designer, Smith School Building Committee, and MSBA to be the preferred solution for educational program delivery and long-term use and maintenance.

As part of the MSBA funding assistance approval process, a projected student enrollment analysis was performed for all K-5 students in the District. Please note the following from the MSBA’s October 13, 2016 Enrollment Certification Letter:

  • The average grade K-5 base enrollment forecast for the projected period through the 2025-2026 school year is 1,905 students.
  • The capacity analyses concluded that the total capacity of the other four Elementary Schools within the District is 1,440 students
  • As a result, the MSBA has recommended a design enrollment of 465 students for the proposed Ivan G. Smith School Project. (Grades K-5)

The enrollment growth will be gradual over the course of 10 years at approximately 30 students per year. When the new Smith School opens, the building will not be filled to capacity and the population will continue to expand through the first 6 years the school is open.

Over the past 20 years, the Town of Danvers has seen stable enrollment at all five elementary schools. Recently, development has occurred on the north side of town, within the Ivan G. Smith School area. Therefore, we have seen a natural increase in enrollment for the Ivan G. Smith School, including the need for an additional kindergarten classroom in 2018-2019.

In October of 2016, when the Town of Danvers and the MSBA came to an agreement on the certified enrollment for the Ivan G. Smith project, this projected enrollment number was significantly higher than the current enrollment at the Ivan G. Smith School. Since October 2016, the District has been working collaboratively with local boards as well as our architect and owner’s project manager to look at enrollments and districting across our five elementary schools.

Prior to the beginning of the Ivan G. Smith project, the District had two flex zones. Students residing in these designated flex zones attend one of three elementary schools in town, based on enrollment numbers. Over the course of the 2017-2018 school year, the District gathered data from multiple sources.  This data included information on all current students in the district and records of all births since September 2013 (based on street).

In conjunction with the District, Tappe Architects imported this data into a dynamic GIS system that allows the District to see where students will be residing as they enter kindergarten over the next 5 years. The District is currently using this mapping tool to further analyze and identify additional flex zones for the District and, if needed, possible redistricting.

Prior to the 2019-2020 kindergarten parent orientation (in April 2019), we plan to have the process complete.

Facts Figure
Square Footage 83,000 SF
Student Capacity 465 students
Parking Space 123 spaces
Total Project Cost (11/1/18) $52.0 m
Estimated Town Share $31.5 m
School Stabilization Fund (FY19) $5.84m
Special Town Meeting February 4, 2019
Project Start Fall 2019
Project Completion Spring 2021

The existing Smith School property was selected as the site for the new Smith School.

The Town of Danvers’ Engineering Division utilized GIS to research similarly sized parcels for consideration and determined that there are 12 similarly sized parcels within the Smith School District. Five of the 12 parcels are owned and actively operated by the Town of Danvers. Of the remaining seven parcels, three are owned by St. John’s Prepatory School, one is unbuildable, one is owned by the Salem and Beverly Water Supply Board, and two are privately owned. Of the two privately owned parcels, one is an active farm and retail farm stand, and the other is occupied by a three family home situated on a lot with significant area of wetlands and a pond.

The selection of the current site was approved by the design team, local officials, School Department, School Building Committee, and the MSBA. The orientation and placement of the new school design improves site utilization and vehicle circulation on the existing site, and provides more parking than any other school in Town. Parents will no longer have to queue in abutting neighborhoods to pick their students up at the end of the day.

Pending approval by Town Meeting on February 4, 2019, the estimated construction start date is September 2019, and the new school will be opened for the September 2021 school year. Please refer to the Project Timeline tab for more detailed information related to MSBA submittals.  Other important dates include:

  • Board of Selectman Hearing – Tuesday, January 8, 2019
  • Finance Committee Hearing – Tuesday, January 15, 2019
  • Project Workshop for Town Meeting Members – Saturday, January 26, 2019

The estimated total project cost is currently approximately $52 million dollars. The Town has been building its School Stabilization Fund over the past four years (currently at ~$5.5 million dollars) and will seek to continue funding up until the long-term debt is issued. The MSBA has committed to funding 55.455% of all eligible project costs.   The schematic design construction budget and cost estimates are available here and a summary is shown below:

Smith SD Budget

Each School District in Massachusetts that is selected by the MSBA for funding assistance is assigned a different MSBA reimbursement rate based on socio-economic factors. Please refer to the MSBA website for more information.

The base reimbursement rate for Danvers is 50.58%. The following incentive points are then added to the base rate: CM @ Risk project delivery method (+1 point), Maintenance (+1.875 points), and Energy Efficiency (+2 points).

Category Reimbursement Points
Reimbursement Rate before Incentives (provided by the MSBA) 50.58%
Maintenance (provided by the MSBA) 1.875%

CM @ Risk

Energy Efficiency – “Green Schools” 2.0%
Total Incentive Points 4.875%
Anticipated MSBA Reimbursement Rate with Incentives 55.455%

There are numerous financing models the Town could consider, but the two presented at the Financial Summit frame the alternatives in the clearest terms.  The total cost of the 20-year EP financing plan was $46.5 million ($32 million principal + $14.2 million interest), with higher annual payments for a shorter period.  The total cost of the 30-year LD plan was $60.5 million ($32 million principal + $28.5 million interest), with lower annual payments for a longer period.

The summary table below displays a 25-year LD option, i.e. a “middle” option, alongside the two options presented at the Financial Summit, for discussion purposes.  These three options represent the spectrum very well.  More detail on each option is provided in the attachments.

Facts & Figures 30-year level debt 25-year level debt 20-year equal principal
Total Project Cost $60.5 million $53.8 million $46.2 million
Total Interest Cost $28.5 million $21.8 million $14.2 million
Cost Avoid (vs. 30 yrs.) $0 ($6.7 million) ($14.3 million)
Peak Year (FY23) $7.54 million $7.68 million $8.32 million
Average Tax Bill Incr. $157/year, 30 years $167/year, 25 years $179/year, 20 years
Req’d SSF to stay @ 6% $8.3 m (FY 20-26) $9.2m (FY20-26) $13.0 m (FY20-26)
Budget Impact Service Solvency Exclusion / Svc Solvency  Debt Exclusion


You can view the full financial summit presentation here.

Tappe Architects of Boston, MA has been selected as the designer for the Smith Elementary School Project. For the past 40 years, Tappe has focused much of their practice on public schools with a vast majority of their projects being completed in Massachusetts. Similar projects include the Lunenburg Middle/High School, Melrose Elementary School Additions, Clyde Brown Elementary School (Millis, MA), Melrose High School, Galvin Middle School (Wakefield, MA), Stoneham Middle School, and Vinson-Owen Elementary School (Winchester, MA) amongst numerous libraries and municipal studies.

It is the job of the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) to represent the Town during the entire duration of the construction project. Among many other responsibilities, the OPM oversees the hiring of the Architect and General Contractor/Construction Manager, manages the project schedule and budget, and coordinates communication between the Town and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). Because they serve such an important function, the OPM must submit a formal proposal of qualifications and interview with the Town before being hired. The MSBA must also approve the Town’s selected OPM before they are hired by the Town.

The OPM selected for the Smith Elementary School Project is PMA Consultants, LLC (PMA) of Braintree, MA. PMA’s project managers bring significant experience to the Town of Danvers with their resume of over 30 K-12 school projects managed alongside the MSBA. Some of their school projects within the North Shore area include Essex Tech High in Danvers, Saugus Middle High School, North Reading Middle High School, Swampscott High School, Somerville High School, Wellington Elementary in Belmont, and Thompson Elementary in Arlington.

  • 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 strives to work with local communities to create affordable, sustainable, and energy efficient schools across Massachusetts.

The Legislature created the MSBA in 2004 to replace the former school building assistance program administered by the Department of Education (now the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education).

The MSBA, which has a dedicated revenue stream of one penny of the state’s 6.25-percent sales tax, is collaborating with municipalities to equitably invest in finding the right-sized, most fiscally responsible and educationally appropriate solutions to create safe, sound, and sustainable learning environments.

In its ten-year history, the MSBA has made more than $13 billion in reimbursements to cities, towns, and regional school districts for school construction projects. Instead of waiting years for reimbursement, districts now receive payments from the MSBA as costs are incurred, usually within 15 days of submitting a request through the MSBA’s online Pro-Pay System.  Please visit the MSBA website for more information.

You can get involved by attending a meeting or you can subscribe to our email notification list to stay up to date on important meetings and presentations about the Smith School project.

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