Special to the Independent
Christmas came a little early to Everett this year with a vote by the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to advance the proposal Mayor DeMaria has been advocating for to build a new high school facility that has the potential to alleviate classroom size in all current Everett Public School buildings.
The MSBA Directors voted at their meeting on December 13, 2023 to accept the recommendation to invite the Statement of Interest (the “SOI”) for the Everett High School, serving grades 9-12, in the City of Everett (the “City”) into the MSBA’s Eligibility Period. The Eligibility Period is a 270-day process that formalizes the beginning of the MSBA’s grant approval process for funding to construct a new school facility and includes a schedule with definitive milestones for the City of Everett to complete preliminary requirements assisting with determining financial and community readiness, identifying needs for planning, and budgeting. This process will commence on July 1, 2024 and conclude on March 28, 2025.Successful completion of all activities in the Eligibility Period will allow the City to be eligible for an MSBA invitation to the next step, which is Feasibility Study.
“Last week’s vote by the MSBA Board of Directors is the critical next step that I have fought for in order for Everett to move forward with the only solution that will address our entire district’s needs,” said Mayor DeMaria. “Despite all political assertions to the contrary, the data and evidence show that spending tens of millions of dollars to renovate the former Pope John facility is fiscally irresponsible because that site does not have the capacity to solve class size across the whole district. I have a responsibility to take action that will benefit all students and to spend taxpayer dollars in the way that will provide the greatest benefit to our community, which proposals to use the former Pope John location clearly would not.”
“It is an honor to be among the select few communities to have its Statement of Interest selected by the Massachusetts School Building Authority,” said Interim Superintendent of Schools William Hart. “The district looks forward to working with city and state officials on building a high school that fulfills all of our aspirations.”
Building a new high school facility would alleviate classroom size across the district because it would create the option of using the current high school as a middle school. Creating additional space for a middle school would remove students from Everett’s current K-8 schools and allow for space currently occupied by upper grades to be used to better meet the needs of lower grade students.
Mayor DeMaria also has advocated for a new high school facility to expand Everett’s ability to offer Career and Technical Education (CTE) for students who do not have access to vocational options currently. “We need to make every effort to ensure that our young people have options to immediately enter the workforce after graduation from high school. With the economic development that is underway in Everett, we have the chance to create an educational pipeline for our students into a changing economy that will be dependent on a workforce that has skilled workers prepared for higher paying employment opportunities,” said the Mayor.
The Mayor’s education to employment vision is one shared by local developers who are leading the way in creating those new employment options. “We applaud Everett’s commitment to training the workforce of tomorrow,” said Stephen Davis, President of The Davis Companies. “This type of vocational education is vital to the continued evolution of the Massachusetts economy and will help to propel the growth of our clean tech and high-tech manufacturing sectors. We look forward to working with the City in fostering this key component of a vibrant technology ecosystem.”
The Davis Companies recently acquired the former Exxon Mobil assemblage in Everett and will be developing formal proposals for local consideration and approval to redevelop the site and transform it from its current outdated industrial use.
Building a new school facility is the best longer-term solution for Everett’s educational needs. It is not the only option that Mayor DeMaria intends to pursue. “I was disappointed last week in the City Council’s vote against using ARPA funding for temporary modular structure options, given the amount of time that has been spent on discussing the needs of the schools,” said the Mayor. “I fully intend to keep my commitment to Everett students to do everything I can to find temporary and long-term solutions for them and will resubmit a request to use ARPA funding to alleviate space issues while we partner with the MSBA. I am hopeful that the incoming City Council members will have the same commitment to our students that I do and approve this temporary solution.”