For the past three years Revere has been trying to get a plan off the ground to consolidate some old school buildings and build a new high school that will serve the city’s students and families for generations to come.
Last week the Revere Public Schools cleared a major hurdle during the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) board meeting.
Last Wednesday the MSBA board voted to invite Revere and and 10 other school districts that filed Statements of Interest (SOI) this year to take part in the eligibility process that could ultimately lead to for grant money to build a new high school school here.
“This is news we have wanted to hear for the past three years,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo in statement after the board vote. “This assures that future generations of Revere Public Schools students will have the opportunity to avail themselves of the technological features and accommodations that form the pillars of high school education in the modern age.”
This year Revere submitted a SOI with the MSBA for consideration in the authority’s ‘Core Program’. The MSBA’s Core Program is primarily for projects that include extensive repairs, renovations, addition/renovations, and new school construction. The MSBA reviewed Revere’s Core Program SOIs and 69 other SOIs and presented recommendations for ‘Further Review’ or ‘No Further Review’ at a May 22 meeting.
At that meeting Revere Schools made the cut and was recommended for an “Invitation to Eligibility”, which the MSBA board voted to approve last week.
While the news is good for Revere after several attempts to attain MSBA grant money for a new High School Mayor Arrigo cautioned that a new high school will not magically appear in the city and the process is expected to be long and grueling.
“This is a first step,” he said. “It’s a huge first step, and without it, there is no second step. But now we embark on the long process that only begins with MSBA approval. We move on to feasibility studies, site selection, design, and eventually construction.”
The Mayor estimated that the entire process could take six to eight years.
According to the MSBA once a school district is accepted into the ‘Eligibility’ program it kicks off a 270-day period for the district to complete certain preliminary requirements and benchmarks.
Revere must now draft the district’s understanding of the grant program rules by executing an Initial Compliance Certification.
Revere must then form a School Building Committee and submit the membership to the MSBA for acceptance.
The city will be asked to then complete an Educational Profile Questionnaire to further inform the MSBA’s understanding of the district’s current and proposed educational facilities, teaching methodology, grade configurations and program offerings.
Other milestones Revere must hit include a certification of a design enrollment for the proposed project, confirmation of community authorization and funding, as well as an execution of the MSBA’s standard Feasibility Study Agreement, which establishes a process for the district to be reimbursed for any new building expenses.
Superintendent Dianne Kelly, who attended last week’s MSBA board vote with Mayor Arrigo, said she greeted the news with visions of a new landscape for Revere Public Schools.
“We have made tremendous progress in our school system over the years, but the one missing piece from the equation was a state-of-the-art high school,” said Kelly in a statement after the vote. “Optimistically, I’d envision a new high school at a new site. That would enable us to convert the current high school to a central middle school, and then repurpose our current middle schools as elementary schools. That would allow us to reduce class size across the entire system. It will have a powerful impact on our ability to prepare our students for life after high school, whether that be in higher education or in other pursuits”
Both Mayor Arrigo and Superintendent Kelly expressed their gratitude to the MSBA. “Competition across the state for limited school building funds is intense, and the application process is rigorous,” said Mayor Arrigo. “Revere’s submission, and the impressive presentation by Superintendent Kelly and the school department’s success during interviews and a site-visit, had to be comprehensive, compelling, and practical, balancing the eagerness for a new school with prudent and accountable planning.”
Arrigo pointed to the current Revere High School, which was built in 1974, as an aging structure that has “fallen far behind the demands of contemporary education.”
As surrounding communities like Winthrop took advantage of the MSBA grant program to build a new High/Middle School complex, Arrigo said Revere has lagged and a state-of-the-art high school facility has been the ‘missing link’ for a strong school system.
“The world of education is far removed from 45 years ago, and so is our city. Right now, we are undergoing another transformation,” said Mayor Arrigo. “We are a community where people want to live and raise a family, as so many generations have throughout our history.”