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WHCIS Building Renovation and Replacement Efforts

The City of Somerville and the Somerville Public Schools have begun the process of pursuing significant renovation or new construction for the Winter Hill Community Innovation School. In early 2022, formal building and school-system-wide studies were initiated to launch this process. In April 2023, Somerville filed Statements of Interest with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to seek major state funding for addressing the school building needs of the Winter Hill Community Innovation School as well as the Benjamin B. Brown School.   

In December 2023 the MSBA notified Somerville that the Winter Hill SOI was one of 19 applications (out of more than 60) invited into the first phase of the MSBA process, the Eligibility Period. Although the Brown School was not specifically accepted into the program, the MSBA expressed willingness to consider a single project that accommodates both the Winter Hill and Brown school populations at this time.   

More information on the MSBA Eligibility Period is available here

WHCIS 2023-2024 School Year Info

About the WHCIS

Built in 1975, the Winter Hill Community Innovation School is the second oldest operating school in the district. It is the district’s only Innovation School. It is home to approximately 425 students in PK-8 (prekindergarten to grade 8) and includes General Education classes, the Newcomer Academy for grade 6-8 Multilingual Learners (ELLs), and classes for Somerville students with special education needs. It also is home to the AIM Program (Adapt, Include, Motivate) for students on the autism spectrum who need specially designed instruction. 

What’s Next for the School Building?

The City of Somerville is actively working to address the challenges faced by the Winter Hill school community and prepare for the future needs of the school and our district.  


While assessments of 115 Sycamore, conducted in summer 2023, have shown that the building is structurally sound, the building does need some repairs before it could be reoccupied.  

Instead, as of November 2023, we will focus on making additional investments at the Edgerly Building to allow PK and K classrooms to join the rest of the school community for the 2024-2025 school year. We anticipate that the WHCIS community will remain at the Edgerly for the duration of the building project for a new or renovated school. 

Building Full Renovation or Reconstruction Efforts  

The City of Somerville and Somerville Public Schools, in collaboration with the School Committee and City Council, have been working closely to identify all potential options, and coordinating on the processes that would be required for a full renovation or rebuild through the City’s K-8 Master Plan. These plans were accelerated in June 2023 with the unexpected temporary closure of the Winter Hill school. 

In December 2023 the MSBA notified Somerville that the Winter Hill SOI was one of 19 applications (out of more than 60) invited into the first phase of the MSBA process, the Eligibility Period. Although the Brown School  was not specifically accepted into the program, the MSBA expressed willingness to consider a single project that accommodates both the Winter Hill and Brown school populations at this time.   

More info on this eligibility period is available below. 

Major steps taken to date include:
  • In early 2022 the Somerville K-8 Master Plan development process began with Winter Hill and Brown School needs driving this process. Please see the Master Plan page for more detailed information. The development of this plan requires an extensive study and planning process to ensure the needs of the community’s current and future student populations are met and to assess the feasibility of renovations and replacement of school buildings in Somerville. 
  • SPS completed the necessary districtwide Enrollment Study to assess how many students and with what needs are anticipated to enroll in Somerville schools over time.  
  • The City completed the necessary Building Capacity Study to analyze how many staff and students our existing school buildings across the district can support. 
  • The City has conducted a necessary Gap Analysis Study to determine based on the enrollment projections and building capacities, what new capacities SPS need now and in coming years to best serve all students in the district. The report is currently being developed, will be shared with the community once available. 
  • In January 2023, the Building Conditions Analysis and Renovation Potential Assessment of the Winter Hill Community Innovation School was launched as part of the K-8 Master Plan. When the concrete failure occurred in late May 2023, the City mobilized to exhaustively assess the structural condition of Winter Hill. The results of this assessment are available here

MSBA Eligibility Period

The Eligibility Period helps the MSBA manage their financial resources and confirms Somerville’s readiness to fund and undertake a school building project. Somerville’s Eligibility Period will begin on March 4, 2024 and last for 270 days.  

During this time Somerville must complete several tasks to advance the potential through the MSBA Process.  These tasks include:

  • Form a School Building Committee 
  • Complete the required documentation
    • Initial compliance certification 
    • Educational profile and enrollment 
    • Maintenance and capital planning
  •  Authorize funding for the Feasibility Study (approved by City Council in May 2023) 

An Invitation into the Eligibility Period does not mean that the MSBA has approved a Project. If Somerville fails to meet the Eligibility Period deadlines, it will have to withdraw from the process, resubmit an SOI, and be invited into the process again.  

Once the requirements of the Eligibility Period are met, the next step is to work together with the MSBA to hire a design team including an Owner’s Project Manager and Architect.  Once a team of design professionals is selected, Somerville can conduct a Feasibility Study, further developing the options presented in the K-8 Capacity Study, to identify possible solutions and, through a collaborative process with the MSBA, reach a mutually agreed upon preferred solution.    

K-8 Schools Master Plan Development

The K-8 Schools Master Plan will inform the City’s approach to school building development over the next generation. The goal of the plan is to ensure our school system meets the current and future educational needs of Somerville Public Schools (SPS) students. This includes preparing for anticipated enrollment as well as for evolving programmatic needs necessary to provide a quality 21st Century education to all students. The plan also seeks to solve for two existing facility challenges at our two oldest schools: The Benjamin B. Brown School and the Winter Hill Community Innovation School. In short, the K-8 Schools Master Plan is the first step in the process of planning for the major renovation of current schools or new school construction.

Master Plan Development/Funding

January/February 2022: Ballantyne Administration Requests Schools Master Plan Shortly After Assuming Office

Shortly after the Ballantyne Administration assumed office in January 2022, Mayor Katjana Ballantyne requested that planning begin for both the long-range building needs of the School District as well as for the immediate needs of Winter Hill and Brown schools, which both face challenges. Work to prepare for a K-8 Schools Master Plan that would include assessing the needs and options for the Brown and Winter Hill schools was swiftly begun. 

March/April 2022: Master Plan Outline Developed and Funding Plan Prepared 

The Master Plan outline is developed, cost analysis is conducted, and a proposal for funding of the plan via the fiscal year 2023 budget (covering July 2022 to June 2023) is prepared for the Mayor’s Office and Superintendent by City infrastructure staff in coordination with Somerville Public Schools. 

May/June 2022: City Submits and Receives City Council Approval for Funding for the Master Plan  

In May 2022, Mayor Ballantyne’s first City budget is submitted to the City Council, and the first Schools budget prepared collaboratively with SPS, the City, and the School Committee under her administration is submitted to the School Committee. Among other items, they include funding for the Master Plan in the City budget, funding for several school yard renovation projects including at the Brown and Healey Schools, and a historic 10% increase overall in the Schools budget. The SPS budget is passed by the School Committee. And both budgets are passed by the City Council.

Master Plan Execution

July 2022 to March 2023: Enrollment Study, the First Step of the Master Plan 

The enrollment study is a crucial initial step in the planning process. It includes detailed projections of the future student population of the district and will inform the development of a strategic plan to meet the needs of those students. 

Launched in fall 2022 and lead by SPS, the enrollment study by Flo Analytics estimates future enrollment on a 5- and 10-year horizon.

The preliminary data indicate either a fairly steady or a slight decrease in enrollment over the next 10 years. At the higher end, the forecast indicates about a 2% increase in overall student enrollment between this year through SY33. At the lower end, the forecast indicates anywhere from a 5% to a 9% decrease in enrollment between this year through SY33.  

You can read the full report here

January - April 2023: Building Capacity Study

The Building Capacity Study or existing building assessment is another part of the first phase of the K-8 Master Plan. A Building Capacity Study looks at how many staff and students our current schools can support. Evaluating how many classrooms our schools can hold and the number of students those classrooms can serve well informs us to what extent our existing buildings can support the needs of SPS. Brown and Winter Hill school have more exhaustive existing building assessments because of the age of the schools. The City completed the Building Capacity Study in April 2023.  

Summer - Fall 2023: Gap Analysis 

The second phase of the Master Plan process compares our enrollment and space needs both now and into the future with the buildings we currently have to determine our building needs going forward. This phase involves problem-solving for the needs identified. Those needs can include new types of spaces that best serve modern educational instruction, expanded specialized space for growing programs like the AIM Program for neurodiverse students, or new or renovated structures needed due to building age or deterioration. We then evaluate the options for reconfiguring, renovating, or replacing buildings (whether in one or more projects). These options also go through a cost estimating exercise. This is just the start of how Somerville looks at needs and options. Parents, guardians, and the full community are engaged next as we determine together what is best.  

Winter 2023 - Fall 2025: Feasibility Study and Community Process  

Intensive community process and the formation of building committees will begin during this period. During this phase, we  will solidify plans for building projects in our school district. As those plans take shape with community input, the City will estimate their costs and explore ways to finance school construction or renovation with approval from the City Council and/or voters. These steps are called a Feasibility Study, which sounds like we are just evaluating information, but actually this is the start of preparing rough designs and mapping out general aspects of projects our schools need and that our community wants. 

This phase includes a vital financial step as well: identifying funding. The City will seek state funding via the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). The MSBA requires all of the previous planning and study steps above (started way back in January 2022) before they will consider funding a portion of a project. The City and SPS have already taken the first step in starting our funding application process with MSBA for Brown and Winter Hill by submitting a Statement of Interest in April 2023.

Starting Fall 2025: Design, Followed by Construction 

Upon completion of the feasibility study and community process, work on the specific project design will get underway. Once funding is in place and the design is completed, the construction process will begin. From finding a contractor to installing the last door or light, school projects can take several years to renovate or build as can be seen with the new High School or the renovated East Somerville Community School.  

Get Involved

Community engagement is a critical component of any public investment. There will be opportunities for parents, guardians, and all community members to provide feedback on the K-8 Master Plan development process as well as any individual school-specific renovation/reconstruction projects including the Winter Hill school.  

Looking ahead, a Building Committee will be formed prior to beginning a design phase for a renovated or new school. The Building Committee would include representatives from the City, Somerville Public Schools (both administration and staff), School Committee, City Council, and Somerville residents and stakeholders such as parents and guardians.  

As those opportunities become available more information on how to get involved will be made available here and through other City and school channels.

Reports and Building Assessment

K-8 Capacity Study

2020 Roof & Window Project (115 Sycamore)

K-8 Master Plan (115 Sycamore)

2023 Structural Evaluation (115 Sycamore)

Winter Hill at Edgerly Assessments 



Programs & Initiatives

The City of Somerville and Somerville Public Schools have partnered with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to address major school building needs, including large-scale renovations and new construction.

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