Four critical heating system replacement projects, as well as a roof replacement project in Lowell school buildings have been approved for funding by the Massachusetts School Building Authority's (MSBA) 2022 Accelerated Repair Program (ARP). At its December 13 meeting, the MSBA Board of Directors approved a recommendation to approve funding for boiler replacement projects proposed by the City of Lowell at the Benjamin F. Butler Middle School, the Bartlett Community Partnership School, the Henry J. Robinson Middle School, and the Joseph McAvinnue Elementary School. The MSBA Board also approved a roof replacement project at the John J. Shaughnessy Elementary School. The total funding approved by the MSBA for Lowell projects is $13.6 million. Of that total, the estimated MSBA facilities grant will offset the cost to the City of Lowell by $10.2 million.
The ARP is a competitive state program administered by the MSBA that provides funding to municipalities for eligible school building projects greater than $250,000 in value. The program is intended to offset costs associated with significant renovations, including roofs that exceed 25 years in age, and boilers that exceed 25 years in age. The ARP focuses on the preservation of existing infrastructure by implementing emergency-efficient and cost-saving upgrades. Up to 78.95% of each approved project is funded by the MSBA through the program, while the remaining 20.05% is funded locally. This invitation into the feasibility study stage will position the City of Lowell to submit a subsequent request to the MSBA to fund the construction phase of the projects, at a similar reimbursement rate.
The Lowell City Council has prioritized maintenance of all municipal facilities, especially the 26 school sites in Lowell. At the direction of the Council, the City Manager and his Administration are engaged in an aggressive effort to leverage funding available through the ARP, as well as other available local and federal funding, to improve school facilities. In the FY2024 capital budget, the Council appropriated $3.85 million for school improvements, and the City Manager's ARPA budget also added an additional $7 million in municipal building improvements, including schools.
"The funding of five projects from the 2022 Accelerated Repair Program is a significant step forward in the City Council's aggressive campaign to make long overdue repairs to our aging school facilities," said City Manager Thomas A. Golden, Jr. "The funding and technical assistance provided through the Accelerated Repair Program is an invaluable tool to the City in making these repairs. We are grateful that State Treasurer Deb Goldberg and the Board of Directors at the MSBA have recognized the importance of these high-priority projects and are grateful for their continued partnership."