Special to the Journal
Public education in Revere took a major leap forward Wednesday when the Massachusetts School Building Authority announced its initial approval of the City’s bid for a new Revere High School.
“This is news we have wanted to hear for the past three years,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo, who appeared before the MSBA with school Superintendent Dianne Kelly on Wednesday. “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.”
While the MSBA news is most welcome, Mayor Arrigo tempered any unrealistic expectations of how soon the doors would open at a new RHS. “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.
Superintendent Kelly 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. “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.”
The current Revere High School at 101 School Street opened in September of 1974. While the building is functional, its infrastructure and architecture have fallen far behind the demands of contemporary education.
As communities that surround Revere constructed new high schools in the past decade, Revere lagged. “Superintendent Kelly is right: a new high school was the missing link in what is, in every other respect, a strong school system,” said Mayor Arrigo.
The Mayor commented that not only have educational needs changed over the years, but the City’s demographic shift has generated new expectations of the 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.”
Mayor Arrigo emphasized his commitment to high-quality education and his recognition of its civic value. “One of a municipality’s greatest ambitions is to provide its students with a school system that strives for excellence” he said. “In turn, an exceptional school department is a centerpiece of responsible municipal government.”
“We in Revere are blessed with superb teachers, administrators and staff who are dedicated to the highest ideals in public education for all our students,” said Mayor Arrigo. “Now we will be able to maximize their efforts with a facility that matches their talent and commitment.”
Traversing the long road to a new high school will require both patience and support from the public. “This doesn’t happen overnight, and it is a substantial investment,” said Mayor Arrigo. “But I am confident that those in government and our residents will appreciate the challenge and embrace the obligations that come with it.”
Timing is also fortuitous. Substantial new development planned for the sites of the former Suffolk Downs race track, and the abandoned Necco facility, along with the construction of seven new hotels in Revere promise an expanding tax base that will help underwrite the costs of a new school. “A new high school is one more example of the future Revere, a city attracting businesses that provide good jobs, residents who value high-quality education, and, most important, a city where our quality of life reflects the richness and history of our location and our past.”