Members of town council, bundled in overcoats and gloves, walked the campus of St. Andrew’s School late Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 26, as part of a unique meeting between officials at the private school and the town’s top elected officials.
St. Andrew’s School invited the council to the tour and presentation after council member Bill DeWitt began exploring the idea of collecting a payment in lieu of taxes from the small private school.
St. Andrew’s officials offered a slightly different perspective on the payment idea — sharing a closer look at the various contributions the school has made to Barrington and the rest of the East Bay for the last 121 years.
Shortly after concluding a tour of some of the campus buildings, St. Andrew’s School Headmaster John Martin spoke about the agreement in 2000 that provided Barrington with 28.5 acres of land on Middle Highway. The parcel, known as the St. Andrew’s Farm Field, was a gift to the town. There is also a $1 million bequest established to maintain the property in perpetuity.
St. Andrew’s estimated the purchase price for that property at $3 million; the land also provided a new athletic field for the town, which has recognized a shortage of field space in the past.
(St. Andrew’s currently leases five acres of the farm field from the town for its maintenance department, but when that department is relocated, the agreement stipulates that the buildings there will be razed and the property seeded.)
Mr. Martin also spoke about a 1955 deal in which St. Andrew’s granted a request for an easement for a drainage system for nearby housing developments. The easement — no funds were exchanged — encompassed 17.7 acres of the school’s campus, which are now designated wetlands and cannot be built upon.
It was also mentioned that 16 children of St. Andrew’s School teachers who live on the campus attend Barrington public schools. Using the per pupil expenditure figure of $13,500 for each student, it was estimated that it cost $216,000 to educate the 16 children.
Mr. Martin then added that there are 30 Barrington boys and girls who go to St. Andrew’s School, which would otherwise have cost local taxpayers $405,000 each year. The headmaster said 12 of those 30 students have IEPs (individual education plans) which can sometimes result in additional costs.
As for services, five residents on the campus have their trash and recycling picked up by the town’s private contractor each week, and the fire department made approximately 18 runs to the campus for various emergency calls. He said some of those calls the town was likely reimbursed for.
Economic impact of St. Andrew’s School
Officials at the small private school offered an impact statement to officials at last week’s meeting. Included in the statement was a breakdown of the economic impact the school has upon the town and surrounding area:
• In 2013, St. Andrew’s had a total of $3.81 million in payroll, of which $2.28 went to Barrington residents
• Employees residing on campus pay an average of $500 each year in excise taxes
• 13 school employees own homes in Barrington
• St. Andrew’s purchased $81,374 in goods and services from Barrington businesses in 2013 and $457,344 in the past four years
• Sewer use fees paid by the school to the town were $22,799 in 2013 and $74,827 over the last four years
• School anticipates paying $22,500 in building permit fees to the town in 2014; has paid more than $160,000 in permitting fees since 1999
• Paid $31,182 to BCWA in 2013
• School has provided nearly $900,000 in scholarship financial aid to day students from Barrington who are enrolled at St. Andrew’s
• St. Andrew’s is the second largest private employer in Barrington (Shaw’s Supermarket is first), with 66 full-time employees and 22 part-time employees.
Access to campus
School officials also highlighted the dozens of organizations that have used the facilities and grounds at St. Andrew’s School over the years. “In many instances, fees that would normally be charged were either waved or reduced for local groups,” stated the impact statement. “The St. Andrew’s property and campus is bother attractive and well kept. It is a welcome and open space for dog walking, jogging and short-cuts to Barrington High School from adjoining neighborhoods. The Barrington Police use the school’s driveway to keep watch on Federal Road traffic and we have provided, at no cost, a visitor parking area across from the Public Safety Building. We encourage the public to attend sports and theatre events at no charge.”