State approves $12.4m for Wellington

Word on the street is that, after months of back and forth, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve funding for reconstruction of the Wellington Elementary school. The vote clears the way for $12.4 million in state funding to come to the town to offset the cost of the project, according to a document posted on the MSBA Web site. That amounts to just over 31% of the total cost of the project (which includes cleanup of the building site and temporary relocation of its students).

The vote, which was expected this week, is a huge victory for school and town officials and the Wellington Building Committee, which has been working closely with the MSBA to shape the town’s proposal and ferry it through to approval. It also starts the clock ticking. Belmont now has 120 days in which to win voter approval for a debt exclusion to fund construction.

 The first hurdle in that effort will be winning approval from the Board of Selectmen for a special election to consider the debt exclusion. That vote could come as early as Monday, or at the April 6 Board of Selectmen meeting.  All three Selectmen have signalled their support for the Wellington Project in the past, though with differing levels of enthusiasm. Its unclear what impact the state’s increased grant amount (a grant as low as $11 million was rumored as recently as a couple weeks ago) will have on support for the debt exclusion on the BOS.