Falmouth Middle School work on time, under budget

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FALMOUTH — As students filed out of buses and into Falmouth Middle School on the first day of school Tuesday, they likely paid little attention to the building’s new features, added this summer as part of a $5 million renovation package.

Construction crews installed new windows, roofing, structural support, heaters and an upgraded heating system in July and August.

Dan O’Shea, director of finance and operations for the Falmouth School Department, said the final figures have not yet been tallied, but he expects the cost of the renovations to be under budget.

“It was an excellent project from start to finish,” he said. “The contractors were great. They worked on a tight time line and had it all wrapped up. …We’re happy coming out the other end, with everybody back in on time, as promised.”

O’Shea said the work has cost $4.27 million and that between $50,000 and $80,000 will be reduced from that figure because several trade allowances were not needed. In total, he said, the project will likely come in about $100,000 under budget.

The project was funded after voters approved two bonds in June, one for the $3.25 million heating system upgrade, and another for $1.7 million in classroom and roof renovations.

The first phase of the project this summer knocked out much of the work on the total project. The second phase, which will begin next summer, will reconfigure science classrooms and the music section of the school.

One of the most significant pieces of this summer’s renovation was the conversion from an inefficient steam-heating system to a water-heated system.The previous piping often leaked, which over time became costly for the district, O’Shea said.

The work also connected the middle school to the more efficient wood-chip boiler loop used by the high school and elementary school. 

The middle school currently uses an oil boiler, but will begin employing the wood-chip boiler system by early October, O’Shea said. The department expects the new system to increase efficiency and be less costly to operate.

The summer renovations also replaced the roofs over the cafeteria, library and small gym. It also added support to the roof to be compliant with new snow-load requirements.

Some of the nearly $400,000 in new windows were installed, replacing single-pane windows that reportedly blew open when strong wind gusts hit the building.

O’Shea said while some of the contingency allowances were used to pay for added structural support and asbestos removal, the renovations will ultimately cost less than expected.

Next summer, as part of the second construction phase, four science classrooms and a lab will be redesigned to accommodate modern teaching methods. The project is expected to free up space for an additional two classrooms, which will allow the school to have an all-in-one music wing.

The new configuration will eliminate the need to house one of the music classrooms in a portable, bringing all of the school’s classes under one roof. The portable will likely revert back to custodial storage space, O’Shea said.

The architect for the classroom renovations will likely have the bid package ready by the end of October, with the project expected to go out to bid in February or March next year, he said.

Will Graff can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or wgraff@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @W_C_Graff

Sidebar Elements

Students at Falmouth Middle School make their way to their first classes of the new school year, Tuesday, Sept. 3. During the summer, a new heating system and new windows were installed.