The Everett City Council convened in a special meeting prior to its regularly scheduled Council meeting on Monday night, to get a first look at a plan to create a state approved Chapter 74 Vocational program within Everett High School.
The proposal has the support of Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who shared his thoughts and support for the project at outset of the meeting. The upfront cost to establish the program, which would serve six vocational areas, would be $700,000 in construction costs within the current school building footprint and the new vocational school would be opened in time to start next school year.
Assistant Supt. Charles Obremeski, and a team of consultants that has been working with the School Department, made the presentation to the Council, which voted during the full Council meeting to ask for a Special meeting next week, so that the city can begin to prepare the financial request, in hopes that the project will go forward as presented.
According to Obremski and consultants Charles Lyons and Roger Bourgeois, both of Lyons Consulting, the new Vocational school would provide state Chapter 74 approval for four existing vocational programs and two new programs. The programs that would be offered include Carpentry, Culinary Arts, Health Assisting and Machine Tool Technology, which all currently exist as regular electives offerings at EHS now and two new programs, Hospitality Management and Marketing.
The project would build out approximately 10,000 square feet of existing space within the high school to be used for the more intensive Chapter 74 Vocational programming and could be offered to the 475 incoming freshman and 105 existing ninth graders who are interested in Vocational training now.
Obremski also noted that the state provides an additional $4,500 per student for every student enrolled in a Vocational school setting. That could mean that additional teachers and staff that would be needed for the Vocational classes could be paid for from new school revenues available through the establishment of the program.
The $700,000 in estimated start-up costs include $326,021 for reconfiguring existing school spaces, $122,919 in additional construction costs, $110,290 in furniture and classroom equipment, and costs for architecture and design work and construction contingency funds.
The Council was told they could expect the proposal to be brought before them for funding through the annual Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which the Mayor brings forth annually in May.
However, with an understanding of the timing needed for funding, advertising, contracting and construction of the project, and with a construction period that must take place in the summer, several Councilors voiced their support for fast-tracking the funding request, so the schools can move forward with the project with certainty of funding.