New Middle School

Voting School Building Committee Membership

Note: The MSBA requires the School Building Committee to include community members who meet specific designations, as noted below in parentheses. 

In addition, members whose names are marked with an asterisk (*) are Holyoke alumni. Names marked with a plus sign (+) are parents/guardians/grandparents of Holyoke students or alumni.

Joshua Garcia*+, Mayor of the City of Holyoke
(Local Chief Executive, Representative of office authorized by law to construct school buildings, Local budget official or member of local finance Committee)

Anthony Soto*, Receiver/Superintendent
(Superintendent of Schools)

Whitney Anderson+, Facilities Administrator
(Local official responsible for building maintenance)

Jaime Morrow, Assistant Director of Procurement for the City of Holyoke
(SBC member who is MCPPO certified)

Erin Brunelle*+, School Committee Member, Realtor
(School Committee Member)

Camilia Garcia+
Member of the community

Jackie Glasheen*+, Executive Director of School Leadership
(School Principal, Member knowledgeable in educational mission and function of facility)

Kevin Jourdain*+, City Councilor, Attorney
(Local budget official or member of local finance Committee)

Tim Keane+, Town Engineer
(Member of community with architecture, engineering and/or construction experience)

Reina Lorenzi*+, Senior Auditor
(Member of the community with finance/accounting experience)

Mark Lubold*+, General Manager
(Member of community with architecture, engineering and/or construction experience)

Kathy Ortiz, Gear Up Advisor and Graduate Student
(Member of the community with community development experience)

Jessica Perella+, Parent and UMass Student
(Member of the community with community development experience)

Anja Ryan, Project Manager and Landscape Architect
(Member of community with architecture, engineering and/or construction experience)

Sean Sheedy*, Building Maintenance Supervisor
(Local Official responsible for Building Maintenance)

David Yos+, Tax Preparer
(Member of the community with finance/accounting experience

Overview

In June 2023, the City of Holyoke and Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) approved funding to build a new middle school for approximately 550 students. The new school is an important component of Holyoke’s efforts to strengthen educational learning opportunities and reimagine the middle school experience. The new middle school will replace the poorly designed, energy-inefficient William R. Peck Middle School that no longer meets the needs of a modern education.

Governance and oversight

The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) is a quasi-independent government authority that partners with communities to support the design and construction of educationally appropriate, flexible, sustainable, and cost-effective public school facilities.

The MSBA requires each community to appoint a School Building Committee (SBC). The SBC has many position categories that must be filled, such as a member who is a certified public purchasing official, who has construction or engineering experience, and who can authorize municipal construction. The Holyoke Mayor appoints members to the SBC. Mayor Joshua Garcia strives to have an inclusive, representative committee. The SBC votes to approve the primary consultants, advises on the design and construction of the school, oversees the project budget and schedule, and serves as a liaison to the community. The SBC serves for the duration of the project—from the Feasibility Design Phase all the way through construction. Membership may change over time given the length of the project.

Consultants

The SBC selects an Owner’s Project Manager (OPM) who acts on behalf of the owner to oversee the entire project. The OPM provides project management guidance and expertise throughout the life of the project. In August 2022, Holyoke selected Anser Advisory as the OPM.

In fall 2022, Holyoke released a bid to solicit architect and design services. In November 2022, the SBC conducted interviews with three firms: Flansburgh Architects, Jones Whitsett Architects, and Mount Vernon Group Architects. In January 2023, Mount Vernon Group Architects was selected due to their strong recordof designing buildings that meet the needs of their client districts and are highly cost effective.The design they presented has been built three times in Massachusetts: Lincoln Elementary in New Bedford, MA (2011), Athol Community Elementary School (2016), and Goodnow Brothers Elementary School in Marlborough (2018). This is part of the MSBA’s Model School Program. The design chosen is being adapted to fit Holyoke’s education plan and site needs. 

In fall 2023, a bid was released for abatement, demolition, and site-leveling work. American Environmental Inc., a  Holyoke-based company, submitted the lowest of five bids. This phase of the work was completed in February 2024..

In fall 2023, Holyoke released a bid for a general contractor. In February 2024, Fontaine Bros. was the lowest qualified bidder. Fontaine Bros. has an office in Springfield. Since their founding in 1933, they have built numerous schools in the Pioneer Valley, including schools in Holyoke, Chicopee, Granby, and Springfield. In fact, Fontaine Bros. built Goodnow Elementary School in Marlborough, from which our school design is based. Fontaine built Holyoke High School Dean Campus (Main Street) and Holyoke High School North Campus (Beech Street), and the company led the expansion and renovation of the Holyoke Library.

Financing

The total project cost is $85.5 million. When the project was approved in June 2023, it was projected that the City of Holyoke’s share of the project cost would be approximately $40 million, and the MSBA would reimburse approximately $46 million. However, in October 2023, the MSBA notified Holyoke officials that they will provide additional reimbursement up to a maximum of $58.4 million as a result of additional school funding authorized by the legislature. Therefore, the City’s estimated share will be $27 million—or 32% of total project cost. Additionally, the demolition and construction bids have come in under budget, so it’s expected that the total cost to the City will be less than $27 million.

During spring 2023 meetings, the Holyoke City Council was provided detailed information about the project, including financing and the city’s other financial obligations. Those presentations can be found here:

More information and to get involved

Please see the history of the middle school building project web page for more information. 

All stakeholders are welcome to attend the School Building Committee meetings. The SBC usually meets on one or two Thursdays each month beginning at 6 p.m. via Zoom. Meetings can also be viewed via Zoom Webinar and on Channel 15. Meetings are posted on the City webpage.

The recordings (in English and Spanish) can be found in the Holyoke Media video archive

Agendas and meeting minutes can be found in this folder

Members of the public who wish to submit public comments may send an Email to Erin Brunelle no later than 3 p.m. the day of the meeting.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Model School Program, and why is it a good fit for Holyoke?

MSBA established the Model School Program to “effectively adapt and re-use the design of successful, recently constructed Pre-K through 12th grade schools. Model Schools are efficient in design and easy to maintain, contain optimal classroom and science lab space, can easily accommodate higher or lower enrollments, incorporate sustainable, ‘green’ design elements when possible and are flexible in educational programming spaces while encouraging community use.”

In September 2022, the MSBA identified five school designs from three different firms that might work for Holyoke. After contacting the firms, two firms (Flansburgh, Mount Vernon Group) felt like their Model School designs would work in Holyoke. We also interviewed  Jones Whitsett since they had previously developed a design for Holyoke, although the building had not been built in another location.

Why did the Building Committee select Mount Vernon Group and their team as the Design Team?

Mount Vernon Group has a very strong record of designing buildings that meet the needs of their client districts and are highly cost effective. The design they presented has been built three times in Massachusetts: Lincoln Elementary in New Bedford, MA (2011), Athol Community Elementary School (2016), and Goodnow Brothers Elementary School in Marlborough (2018).

This demonstrates that the building has been adapted to meet the needs of various communities and that we can expect efficiencies through the design and construction since its been built before. The Design team demonstrated in their interview how the school could be adapted for a middle school curriculum. Members of the SBC visited the Goodnow School in Marlborough in December. Reference calls made by Committee members provided evidence that prior clients had a positive experience, including accurate and high-quality construction documents; their work has been completed on or ahead of schedule; and they have demonstrated positive communication and collaboration with districts, municipalities, and general contractors.

How can I learn more about Mount Vernon Group? 

You can visit the MVG website. Mount Vernon Group’s headquarters is in Wakefield, MA, and they have a satellite office in Chicopee, MA. Their project team is led by Principal Frank Tedesco and includes Adolfo Cuevas, Chris LeBlanc, Dennis Daly, and Hector Torres.

Mount Vernon Group's recent building projects are listed below. All of these projects were completed on time or early, with final costs coming in at or under budget. 

  • Harris Brook Elementary School in Ludlow, MA (opened Fall 2021)

  • Goodnow Brothers Elementary School in Marlborough, MA (opened Fall 2020)

  • Athol Community Elementary School in Athol, MA (opened Fall 2016)

  • Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham, MA (opened Fall 2012)

  • Chicopee Comprehensive High School in Chicopee, MA (opened Fall 2008)

  • Chicopee High School in Chicopee, MA (opened Fall 2004)

How can I learn more about Fontaine Bros?

Fontaine Bros. has offices in Springfield and Massachusetts. Every day, nearly 50,000 students walk through the doors of a Fontaine-built school, including more than 120 Massachusetts public schools since their inception. Their first school project was constructed in 1950, and since then, our work has reflected every educational-programming trend, construction advancement, and logistical challenge imaginable. 

Does the new middle school building result in a tax override or debt exclusion for citizens or businesses?

No, it will not result in a tax override or debt exclusion for citizens or businesses. The City has explored all options to pay for construction of a new middle school building within its operating budget. 

Is HPS making a financial commitment to this project?

As was discussed in 2019, HPS, DESE and the City of Holyoke have agreed to a $500,000* annual commitment, which HPS will redirect to the City and the City can use towards the bond for construction of the school. HPS is able to make this financial commitment due to operational savings that would be realized by closing the inefficient Peck building and replacing it with a more efficient building. (*In 2019, this commitment was stated to be $1 million, which was $500,000 per school. Since we are now pursuing only one new building, the financial commitment from HPS would be $500,000.)