As Everett’s schools are pushed beyond their breaking point for enrollment, it has become clear that there is no time to wait for a new school to be built.
Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani said there are currently 7,214 students in the district. That figure is expected to reach 7,720 within the next four years. “The district has already paid a big price for the growth in student population,” she said during the March 24 meeting of the School Committee’s Budget Committee of the Whole. “We have taken away libraries, art rooms and music rooms – we are very crunched for space. We need to find ways to immediately address this issue.”
Therefore, Tahiliani presented her preliminary recommendations on how to ease overcrowding until a new school is built. She said there is unused space at the Keverian School that was previously reserved for Cambridge Health Alliance. That space can now be converted into a classroom. Tahiliani also said there is storage space at Everett High School which can be converted into a classroom and used for the school’s Connections Program.
“The Keverian and Connections projects are not huge in scale, but they are constructive and creative ways to do something proactive right away,” said Tahiliani.
In addition, she presented the idea of using the building that formerly housed Pope John XXIII High School. “This is the far more ambitious ask,” she said. “It’s not as easy as simply asking for space as we would need the capital investment to quickly prepare the building.”
Tahiliani said the former Everett High School on Broadway could be another possibility. However, like the Pope John building, it would be a stretch financially. “From our understanding, that would cost more to renovate,” she said.
Ward 4 School Committee Member Michael Mangan agreed that the district is seriously overcrowded. “It’s getting worse and worse in terms of the crowding,” he said. “It gets more frustrating for everybody when there’s people piled on top of each other. We have to do something.”
Regarding Tahiliani’s recommendations, Mangan said he favors the possibility of using the Pope John building as more parking is available there. He also suggested utilizing space at the Masonic Building on Broadway.
Ward 2 School Committee Member Jason Marcus spoke in favor of the former Everett High School. “The old high school is a really great idea. I mean for now,” he said. “We only have 3.6 square miles; we’ve got people piled on top of each other.”