“We are in dire need of space.”
That was the message that Superintendent of Everett Public Schools Priya Tahiliani delivered to City Councilors at Monday’s night meeting when she asked them to vote in favor of sending a Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for the construction of a new Everett High School.
The message did not fall on deaf ears.
Councilor Stephanie Smith spoke for her colleagues when she said, “I am in full support of this.”
Councilor Michael Marchese asked about using the old Pope John School on Broadway for extra classroom space.
Tahiliani said, “We are looking at Pope John in the short term.”
Councilors were told that this is a long process that could take a minimum of five to seven years, if not longer, before Everett students step foot in a new high school.
Also on hand at Monday’s meeting was Assistant Superintendent Charles Obremski, who told the councilors about the overcrowding of hundreds of students at local schools such as the Keverian and the high school.
When the old Everett High School was mentioned by some councilors as a potential temporary site for classrooms, Obremski pointed out the extensive work that would have to be done on the second and third floors, such as air conditioning and handicap accessibility.
In the last 11 years, Everett public school enrollment has mushroomed from 6,262 students in 2010 to 7,244 students this year — and there seems no reprieve in the growing numbers of students.
At the high school on Elm Street, there are 2,187 students shoehorned into a school that was built to hold 1,800 students.
At last week’s School Committee meeting, members started the first step to submit a statement of interest form to the MSBA for new school funding.
The second step in the process was to have the City Council also approve the resolution to apply for a new school.
Before the application can be completed and sent to the MSBA, Mayor Carlo DeMaria also will need to sign off on the statement of interest.
DeMaria has been calling for construction of a new high school. He said that he envisions a vocational school being included in the new high school complex. While the location of the new school has not yet been determined, DeMaria is confident that given the city’s top bond rating, financing will not be an issue, and due to his careful management of city finances, the interest rate will be one of the lowest for municipalities.
There were no plans discussed of how the existing schools would be used if and when a new high school is built.
The council voted unanimously for favorable action on the measure.
The following is the resolution that will now go to DeMaria for his approval:
Resolved: Having convened in an open meeting on April 11, 2022 prior to the SOI submission closing date, the City Council of Everett, in accordance with its charter, by-laws, and ordinances, has voted to authorize the Superintendent to submit to the Massachusetts School Building Authority the Statement of Interest Form dated April 4, 2022 for Everett High School located at 100 Elm Street which describes and explains the following deficiencies and the priority category(s) for which an application may be submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority in the future. Everett High School, built to house 1800 students is currently 387 students over capacity.
Enrollment at the lower grades is increasing. The Everett Public Schools is submitting this Statement of Interest based on two priorities: elimination of existing severe overcrowding and prevention of severe overcrowding that is expected to result from increased enrollments, and hereby further specifically acknowledges that by submitting this Statement of Interest Form, the Massachusetts School Building Authority in no way guarantees the acceptance or the approval of an application, the awarding of a grant or any other funding commitment from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, or commits the Everett School District to filing an application for funding with the Massachusetts School Building Authority.