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Massachusetts School Building Authority’s vote kicks off feasibility process

SOMERVILLE - Somerville is one step closer to a renovated or
new high school after the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) voted
on Wednesday to invite Somerville Public Schools into MSBA's eligibility period,
which is the first step in the application process for State funding for renovation
or replacement of the school.

The City and School District now have 270 days from the vote
in which to take the required steps needed for the MSBA to then approve the
district for the next phase of the application process, which is the
feasibility study phase. If a feasibility study is approved, an evaluation of
Somerville High School's existing conditions would be conducted to determine
whether renovating the current school or building a new school would yield the
most educationally appropriate and cost effective solution to the challenges
posed by the current 142-year-old building.

A 2012 report by Maguire Group Inc. (MGI) cited
approximately $10 million in high priority structural repairs and replacements
at Somerville High School needed over the next four years. In its report, MGI
noted repairs needed to aging windows, roofing, and brick façade, among other
areas. Somerville High
School was originally constructed in 1872 and the central wing of the high
school was opened in 1895, with final remodeling conducted in 1986 when the Career,
Vocational and Technical wing and Field House were added.  No major changes or improvements have been
made to the exterior of the building in approximately 24 years. Needs within
the building include modern heating, ventilation and air cooling (HVAC) system,
updated science labs, updated electrical and communication systems and improved
energy efficiency, among others.

The MSBA will work with the Somerville School District during
the eligibility period to determine its financial and community readiness to
enter the program's capital pipeline (in other words, to move forward in the
application process for funding). Requirements to move into the feasibility
study period include:

  • An Initial Compliance Certification that
    confirms the District's understanding of the grant program's rules

  • Formation of a School Building Committee with
    membership approved by the MSBA

  • A summary of the District's existing maintenance

  • Certification of an agreement between the City
    and MSBA that the design of the proposed project will be based on a set student
    enrollment number, determined by an analysis of enrollment projections and
    space capacity

  • Approval by the Board of Aldermen for the
    appropriation of funds to cover the full cost of a feasibility study

  • Execution of the MSBA's Feasibility Study
    Agreement, which establishes the process by which the District would be
    reimbursed for eligible expenses

"We're excited about the opportunity to move
forward in this process, and thank the MSBA for their support," said
Superintendent Tony Pierantozzi. "This 142-year old building has served the
Somerville community well. We're proud of the learning environment that our
students and staff have created within the walls of Somerville High School, and
the success our students have attained as a result of that environment. The
reality is, however, that a building this old presents many challenges and
limitations. Our students, staff and community will enjoy even greater
success in a state-of-the-art learning environment and community facility." 

"Our schools' steady pursuit of excellence led to MCAS results
last year that put Somerville's student growth on par with some of the highest
performing districts in Massachusetts. Our students who are achieving
excellence also deserve an excellent facility that meets their needs and
creates the right environment for a 21st century education," said
Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. "With more families looking to move to Somerville
and more families planning to stay here, we need a modern facility that not
only accommodates our growing enrollment, but has the capacity to allow our
teachers to implement the innovative curriculum that will best enable our
students to achieve both academic success and success in their adult lives. I'm
thankful the MSBA has approved this first step and I look forward to us working
together to develop a plan that benefits all our students, families and the
community as a whole. "

The MSBA's program for school building construction and renovation
grants is a non-entitlement competitive grant program. Grants are distributed
by the MSBA's Board of Directors based on need and urgency, as expressed by the
District and validated by the MSBA. Since its inception in 2004, the MSBA has
reimbursed more than $10 billion for school construction projects.




Susana Hernandez Morgan, 617-629-5221


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