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School Committee votes to fund study of existing high school site

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School Committee members voted unanimously to have Schools Superintendent Diane Kelly work with city CFO Richard Viscay to arrange $2.3 million in funding for a second schematic design for the new high school at the existing site during their meeting of the whole this week, but they weren’t happy about it.

The committee was voting on the city council’s decision to study the needs and costs of moving the project back to the high school’s existing site.

Committee member Carol Tye voted in favor of the motion “with great reluctance” and committee member John Kingston apologized.

Like other members, Kingston staunchly supported building the school at Wonderland.

“I apologize for my vote,” he said. “But I want to get a high school built and this is the only option.”

“We have to go through that process to understand what the cost will be,” Kelly told the committee. Kelly said it would take about a year to complete all the site and design work.

“But the best thing is to keep the project moving forward,” she said. “Even if that means spending $2 million that could be better spent elsewhere.”

Kingston insisted that the city, not the school department, pay for the new design work.

“The council rejected Wonderland,” Kingston said. “If the council is rejecting the Wonderland site, why are we paying for the second study. You pay for the second schematic design.”

Committee members expressed all the concerns that have been raised about building on the existing site, but as committee member Susan Gravellese said, “The clock is ticking.”

The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), which will be picking up a significant amount of the cost for the new school, needs an answer. “I feel our only choice is to move forward with what was voted by the council,” said Gravellese

Kelly said the MSBA would approve the city’s decision to start over with the existing site if the city council, the school committee, and the high school building committee voted in favor of that move. But Kelly stressed Revere needs to go to the MSBA with three clean votes from those three bodies.

Committee members did question what would become of the Wonderland site which the city now owns.

“It was taken to use to build a school,” said committee member Mayor Brian Arrigo. “It’s still in play for a central middle school. We took it and we heard folks don’t want to see it overdeveloped with residential housing…the city can hold onto it.”

Arrigo said the only proposals he has heard for the site were as a parking area for Amazon delivery trucks and as a distribution center for FedEx.

The committee acknowledged the city will need to build a new middle school soon and while using the existing high school was part of the school department’s plan, they agreed that Wonderland could be the answer to siting that project.


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