EASTHAM — The Nauset Building Committee has requested an extension from the state of the deadline for getting four towns’ approval for the proposed renovation of Nauset Regional High School.
The Mass. School Building Authority (MSBA) voted to endorse the project on Feb. 14. State regulations give the district towns (Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet) 120 days from that endorsement to secure approval for the expenditures at town meetings and elections. The 120-day window expires on June 11.
The building committee held a virtual meeting on April 8 and the regional school committee did the same thing the following day to discuss the project.
Gov. Charlie Baker has signed legislation giving towns the ability to reschedule town meetings up to or beyond June 30, the last day of the fiscal year. Town elections can be rescheduled for as late as June 30.
The district towns have begun some tentative rescheduling of town meetings and elections because of the coronavirus pandemic.
|Town||Town meeting||Town election|
|Orleans||June 15||June 23|
|Eastham||June 15||June 23|
Some towns have rescheduled town meeting and elections, while two dates are still up in the air.
The regional school committee has also postponed its vote on the bonding method and request for funds for the project. Once the committee takes that vote, district towns have 60 days to hold town meetings and elections to vote on the matter.
“The school committee votes to request the funding,” regional school committee chair Chris Easley said. “That sets a 60-day time frame for towns to respond. With no town meetings being established in any of the towns, just preliminary discussions, we do not want to force the hand of the towns. We want them to make the decision, then we’ll determine the best way to proceed with our request for funding.”
Project Manager Richard Marx said that the MSBA can authorize a 120-day extension from the June 11 deadline, which would push it back to Oct. 9. The MSBA was scheduled to hold a board meeting on April 15.
Both Marx and Easley said it may be necessary to ask for another 120-day extension after the October deadline, based on the current predictions about the pandemic.
“They want to be able to commit funds to other schools,” Marx said. “They don’t want to tie up funds.”
Greg Levasseur, chair of the building committee, said right now they’re not trying to push out too much information to residents and are waiting for town meeting and election dates become firm.
“Part of the reason we’re kind of slowing down is that this is not really the time to be bombarding folks about the project,” Levasseur said. “We want them to deal with the crisis and their families and their personal lives. When we do have a schedule for the four towns we can regroup and move forward.”
“I think as towns we have a conundrum right now,” said Eastham Town Administrator Jacqui Beebe. “I think it would be unreasonable for the MSBA to not allow us a further extension, given that it is the emergency order of the governor that we cannot have town meeting until he’s lifted his ban.”
Beebe said the select board and finance committee in Eastham had unanimously endorsed the project. Levasseur said the Brewster Select Board had also endorsed it, but the town’s finance committee had not met to vote on it yet.