Home News and Features MRPS Board Hires Consultant for Facilities Study, Priced $62,500

MRPS Board Hires Consultant for Facilities Study, Priced $62,500

brick building front facing door with
Main Street Middle School. File photo.
During the Oct. 18 Montpelier Roxbury Public School Board meeting, board members moved to hire TruexCullins, partnered with Engineering Ventures, as consultants to create flood mitigation plans for the district’s facilities, assess opportunities to improve facilities, and gather community feedback.

TruexCullins is an architecture and design firm in Burlington, with “a significant amount of educational work across the world, and in Vermont,” said Libby Bonesteel, superintendent. Engineering Ventures is an engineering firm that works in the Northeast.

The school board had sent out a Request for Proposals on Sept. 7. “We received three responses to our RFP for the facilities. They were all excellent,” said Bonesteel, who interviewed firms and checked references along with Andrew Larosa, MRSP director of facilities.

The RFP was created “in response to attending the Montpelier city conversations,” Bonesteel said, having proposed to the school board “that it would behoove the board to move into an outside consultant to study facilities based on the traumatic events of this summer.”

Bonesteel explained why she and Larosa recommended hiring TruexCullins. “Their core values of their work very much mirror Montpelier Roxbury’s core values for what we want for students.” TruexCullins has “developed this full child framework,” she said. “All their work is run through this.”

The Winooski School District hired TruexCullins to design a renovation and perform community engagement, which could be difficult because of “diverse perspectives in languages and things like that” in Winooski, said Bonesteel. “I talked to the superintendent who worked with Truex in that process,” who “said they were magnificent through that.”

David Epstein, managing principal at TruexCullins, “has tons of experience in community engagement around these types of projects,” said Bonesteel. “That has been his career.”

TruexCullins’s partner “Engineering Ventures is actually doing a lot of the work here in Montpelier” for flood mitigation potentials, said Bonesteel. “Andrew knows them well,” she added.

From the three firms they interviewed, “Truex was the cheapest,” said Bonesteel, at $62,500. She said one other firm came in at $74,000, and another came in at around $70,000 to $72,000.

“We’re spending a lot of money on this report and study,” and “we want to be able to use this report for years to come,” said Bonesteel.

“The other companies had excellent RFPs and have excellent chops,” said Bonesteel, but had “different skill sets.”

A possible U-32 and MHS merger won’t be covered in depth by TruexCullins and Engineering Ventures. That would be “outside of the scope of what we asked them to do, mainly because they haven’t been hired by Washington Central,” said Bonesteel.

“It will definitely come up,” said Bonesteel. “They can look at some very basic data,” such as “simple enrollment projections,” and building capacity. 

“Washington Central is going through their own facilities process,” said Jim Murphy, board chairperson. Next spring, “we’ll both be better informed about needs and desires.”

The anticipated commencement date was Oct. 19. “This is a tight schedule, so that if it needs to influence, not this year’s budget obviously, but next year’s, it can,” said Bonesteel.

Track Renovation Discussion on Hold

There were no public comments at the Oct. 18 meeting. Talks about the track renovation project are still on hold, until the facilities study is completed next spring.

Letter of Support for Roxbury Village Revitalization Plan

The board moved to approve a letter of support for “a community development grant for Roxbury,” according to Murphy. “The purpose is to help with downtown revitalization in Roxbury,” he said, to “hopefully become even more vibrant.”

“We wanted to express our appreciation for the effort on behalf of the board,” said Rhett Williams, board clerk and Roxbury resident.

“It is the Roxbury Village Revitalization Plan that’s looking for municipal planning grant funds,” said Williams, “which is a sort of a committee.”

“There’s been some momentum in Roxbury to improve the state of the village. And there’s been some progress,” said Williams. “The new park has been well attended. It’s very small, it’s very sweet. It has a nice ping pong table.” The park was funded by volunteers earlier this year, in April.

“Within the town plan” approved in 2021, “one of the big goals was to gain access to more federal and state funding, specifically about the revitalization of the downtown village area. So it’s sort of an extension of this big process,” said Kristen Getler, board member and Roxbury resident. “The money would come through the town,” she said, adding “the letter was requested by a member of the planning commission.”

Grant money is not going to Roxbury Village School itself, but will go to infrastructure around it, such as “improvements to the area, improvements to the sidewalks, improvements to drainage,” said Williams. “It’s going to enhance the experience of the kids that go there,” and the sense of community in the village.

“There is a faction of the community that sort of wants to leave things as they are,” said Williams, “but I don’t know that they’re vocally in opposition to the revitalization effort.”

“I either write letters of support or ask for letters of support all the time. The only thing I’ve ever seen come of a letter of support is goodwill,” said Scott Lewins, board member.

November 1 Budget Discussion

The Nov. 1 MRPS board meeting will include a preview of budgeting pressures. “Not a presentation of the budget, but things … factors to consider,” said Mia Moore, vice chairperson.

“The purpose of that is to explain to the board and the community how what we know now around the waiting study is drastically influencing our budget,” said Bonesteel, “so the board’s aware of the enormous pressures that are on our budget this year. Which could generate great public comment afterwards to talk about goals and priorities.”