By Aaron Keebaugh
The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Board of Directors voted last Wednesday to accept the feasibility study for the new McKinley School, Superintendent Paul Dakin announced via Twitter last week.
Following the board meeting at MSBA headquarters in Boston last Wednesday, State Treasurer and MSBA Chairman Steven Grossman and MSBA Executive Director Jack McCarthy announced that the MSBA’s vote moved the proposal into the “schematic design phase,” according to an MSBA press release. The Revere school district, project manager Collaborative Partners, and design firm Drummey Rosane Anderson will work with the MSBA to create more detailed building and ground designs for the new school.
“This is an exciting stage in the process, as the schematic designs will give us our first look at the new McKinley School. Importantly, these designs will help us define the scope and budget of the project, with the ultimate goal being a school that is efficient, affordable and serves the educational needs of its students,” Grossman commented in the press release.
The feasibility study, presented in public meetings of the Revere School Building and School Committees this summer, pointed to Hill Park as the best solution for the new school, which, when constructed, will hold 690 students.
By contrast, the existing school services over 480 students, which has completely exhausted its space. This year, the McKinley School set up mobile units for some of its fifth grade classes.
Hill Park arose as the best solution for the new school because its location preserved use of the Henry Della Russo Stadium and offered the most cost-effective solution for the city.
According to the study, the estimated total cost for the construction is $41.7 million. The MSBA is projected to reimburse $32.05 million of the cost, leaving the city to cough up $9.65 million for the new school.
After a contentious battle this summer between city officials and relatives of Sgt. James J. Hill, the World War 2 veteran for whom Hill Park is named, the school committee voted to rename the proposed school in honor of Hill.
Last Wednesday’s vote was only the latest of many steps on the way to final approval for the new school.
On September 12 representatives from the Revere school district and project management traveled to MSBA headquarters in Boston to present the feasibility study to the Facilities Assessment Subcommittee (FAS) of the MSBA.
A document from that meeting, published on the MSBA website, included a number of recommendations to the plans and was forwarded to the MSBA board of directors. FAS members requested that the Revere School District consider the potential cost that renovations to the existing McKinley School would bring to the city. The members also requested that the current plans allow for a flexible building design to handle increased student enrollment in the future. In addition, the committee recommended more outside play area and that the school district conduct investigations on a redistricting plan to allow buffer zones, the document states.
The FAS and MSBA staff further noted that Revere “must develop a plan for its schools that addresses the City’s projected enrollment needs, the current capacity, and the infrastructure issues in its remaining school facilities,” the document reads.
Some city councillors have expressed that the city has been left out in the dark in recent weeks over the proposal news. Councillor-at-Large Brian Arrigo stated that the feasibility study does not reflect the true cost of the project, which will likely include renovating the existing McKinley School and Della Russo Stadium as well as replicating Hill Park, as required by law, at St. Mary’s. “My biggest question is whether we can afford it,” Arrigo said in a phone call to The Revere Advocate Wednesday. “We’re looking at a one-and-a-half-million-dollar loss in revenue due to Thrifty Car leaving the city… You’re not going to have a new school and a dilapidated stadium next door. We’re supposed to be involved in the process and we’ve been left out.”
But in an email to The Revere Advocate on Tuesday, School Superintendent Paul Dakin stated that the conditions the FAS requested are typical during the feasibility-study stage. “We have no problem with any of their ideas and in fact have already responded to them,” Dakin wrote.
The Revere city council still has to vote to approve the funding for the construction of the school.