$98 Million Fuller Middle School Project On Time & On Budget, Despite Coronavirus Pandemic

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By Lily Karofsky

FRAMINGHAM – Since breaking ground in June 2018, the new Fuller Middle School project has been a success.

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fuller project has stuck to its original timeline.

District 3 School Committee member Scott Wadland, chair of the School Committee’s building and grounds subcommittee, said: “there was some concern about it [the project] being held up because the steel production plant up in Canada, where all the structural steel comes from, they were running behind but we ended up being able to procure some of the steel from another plant and by having multiple plants working together we were able to avoid any delay.”

Consigli Construction, the company hired to build the new middle school, did have to make adjustments to how they work to keep their workers safe.

For instance, David Miles, a former School Committee member and co-chair of the School Building Committee explained “at one point they brought in a machine to enable one person to do a task that is usually done by 2 workers in close proximity. They have been very responsive to the requirements of the pandemic.”

Miles said the construction team “recently passed one year without an on-site injury. Excellent safety record!” 

As far as the original budget for the project goes, it seems the project is still under it.

Built into the budget were some contingency funds just in case because no one knows all the issues a project might run into when it first begins, but these finds have only had to be tapped into a little bit.

Wadland said tapping into these funds is “a normal part of any construction project and those contingency funds were part of the initial budget so we’re still ahead of the game…the expenses that we’ve incurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic have been relatively small… so we’re in good financial shape.” 

Due to the pandemic, how schools will handle this upcoming year is still being figured out but regardless of how that plays out, “school opening will have no effect on the construction, as the construction is segregated and separated from the existing school” said Miles.  

Recently, there was a beam signing ceremony for the building.

The singing of the beam was part of a topping-off ceremony for the project.

A topping-off ceremony is a celebration of the completion of a building’s vertical construction, dating back to ancient times in Scandinavia.

The original plan was to have all the Fuller students and teachers sign the beam, but unfortunately, COVID prevented that from happening.

Wadland said that instead, the beam was signed by “past and present elected officials… the previous board of selectmen and the current City Council, and then past and present School Committee members as well as our state legislative delegation, basically anyone who had something to do with helping the project move forward.” 

The new Fuller construction project broke ground in June 2018 on Flagg Drive, between the current Fuller Middle School and the former Farley school.

The approximate cost of the middle school project is around $98.3 million. The project is receiving a grant from the state for approximately $39.5 million.

Taxpayers gave their approval to the project via an override vote in December 2018.

The project is expected to be finished in the summer of 2021, just in time for the 2021-2022 school year.

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Report by Lily Karofsky, a Framingham High student, and SOURCE intern for summer 2020.

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