Scrooged Again:MSBA Rejects City’s Application to Get Funding for New High School

By Seth Daniel

For the second, straight year, Revere High School (RHS) officials and district leaders are facing a holiday season with a huge disappointment on their minds.

That’s because for the second, straight year, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) has declined to invite Revere into it’s project pipeline for what would be a new Revere High School – a project that was suggested and championed originally by the MSBA.

Supt. Dianne Kelly broke the news on Monday that the district had been informed shortly after the MSBA issued its agenda for the Dec. 13 board meeting – an agenda that included communities like Fall River, Boston, Lawrence, Westwood, Medfield and Wellesley, but not Revere.

It came with a significant amount of disappointment, as the school is running out of space and hasn’t had proper science labs for more than 10 years.

“It’s hard for teachers, administrators and the kids,” she said. “Our students really would benefit substantially if they had an effective learning environment…We are resilient and it still is a priority and a need to get this project accepted into the MSBA program.

“We have run out of space, though,” she continued. “It might get to the point where we have to do something like we did at the McKinley before the Hill School was built. There, we had to use portable classrooms in trailers. We might need to look at that here too because there is no room in this building.”

That has never been more apparent than in the last few years, when the science lab deficiencies were compounded by the growth in student population at RHS.

As of this week, the RHS enrollment was 1,988 students – just shy of 2,000 students in the building. That’s an increase of more than 100 students from last year, when the enrollment was at 1,837 students.

Five years ago, in 2013, there were about 450 fewer students at RHS, when the enrollment stood at 1,537.

This year, Kelly and Deputy Supt. Danielle Mokaba said they have had to transform some areas of the school to make room for classes. One example is the chorus room is now a large lecture hall, and during planning periods, teachers often have to give up their room to another class and find a quiet place to plan elsewhere.

That is what brings up the temporary classroom space suggestion, as the School District is staring down even larger numbers of students on the way to RHS – students that are now in the elementary grades.

Kelly said there is a good chance that RHS could be enrolled with more than 2,300 students in the coming years, and with no hope of having a high school built.

Currently, the Grade 5 is enrolled at 622, Grade 4 is at 614, Grade 3 is at 535, Grade 2 is at 574 and Grade 1 is at 585.

For comparison’s sake, the current RHS senior class has 448 members.

“I feel we’re developing a strong curriculum at RHS and are well situated to have effective programs like one-to-one learning, Capstone and dual-enrollment (college classes). It’s just a matter of pushing the project back another year. It’s a five-year project to begin with and now, if we’re approved next year, we’re looking at opening a high school six years from now.”

Kelly said they were assured not to take the rejection as meaning there is a problem with the request or the application. After all, it was the MSBA that ordered Revere about six years ago to look at building a new high school – that coming when they refused to fund the district for a project to build out new science labs in the existing building.

The MSBA did not return a request for comment on the situation.

However, Kelly said Revere was encouraged to re-submit their application for next year’s funding round, and that it was simply a matter of more dire situations in other districts.

“The did say the application was exceptional, and they said they’ve been in the building several times and recognize we need a new building,” she said. “They encouraged us to apply again and at the beginning of next year, when the process opens again, we will do that.”

Start times        good in Revere

Much has been made in Boston and surrounding communities about the change in start and end times for the school day.

Supt. Dianne Kelly said the question has come up, and she is reminded that the district moved start times at the high school about six or seven years ago when block scheduling debuted.

Right now, Revere High School (RHS) starts school at 8:18 a.m. twice a week, and 7:50 a.m. three times a week. The dismissal time is 2:20 p.m. every day.

“I feel like 8 a.m. is a good time,” she said. “I wouldn’t mind it going a little later. However, the later you start, the later you go and that puts pressure on the ability for kids to work after school or play sports or extra curricular activities.”

At the middle school level, the Susan B. Anthony and the Rumney Marsh Academy both start at 7:50 a.m. and dismiss at 2:20 p.m.

The Garfield Middle starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m.

Most all elementary schools start at 8:35 p.m.

However, the Whelan Elementary starts at 7:30 a.m. and dismisses at 4 p.m.

The Hill School starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 3:35 p.m.

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