Revere’s Northeast Regional High School Committee representative Anthony Caggiano said after meeting with Mayor Brian Arrigo and Finance Director Richard Viscay, he is hopeful that the City of Revere will support its share of the funding for the new $317 million school project being built in Wakefield.
“We had a meeting, and we went over the figures, and they were not against it, but they wanted to do more financial forecasting for the future, and they indicated they would get back to me on that,” related Caggiano.
Last August, the Massachusetts School Building Authority approved the final design for the school and awarded $141 million for the construction of the new school. In September, the Northeast Regional School Committee voted to approve the project and proceed with construction.
While Mayor Arrigo declined to comment on Revere’s status regarding the City supporting the Northeast school project at this time, Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino told the Chelsea Record last week that he would urge the Chelsea City Council to oppose the project.
“My objection to the project has nothing to do with its merits, which are unassailable,” said Ambrosino. “My opposition is based on the cost and formula by which this cost will be apportioned among the member communities. Simply put, the project results in an annual cost to Chelsea that is unaffordable, and in my opinion, inequitable.”
Chelsea’s costs for the project would be approximately $57 million, spread out over a 30-year period. No annual funding figures were released by officials from Revere, which has a higher student enrollment at Northeast than Chelsea, with 252 Revere students currently attending the vocational school. There are 12 communities in the Northeast Regional School district.
Caggiano called the meeting with Arrigo and Viscay “positive.”
“From the conversations, it seems like they’re in favor of the new school, but they want to look at the finances from a 10-15-year perspective,” said Caggiano.
He said he also met with State Reps. Jessica Giannino and Jeffrey Turco about the new school, and “they’re in favor of the new school.” Caggiano said he has not met with the Revere City Council.
Reps. Giannino and Turco have worked on state legislation that would allot an additional $100 million for the Northeast school project through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). That funding would lower the annual costs for all 12 communities in the Northeast district, including Revere.
“The funding of increased opportunity for vocational education is critically important,” said Turco. “Vocational education allows students in Revere and Winthrop the opportunity to enter the workforce as a skilled and trained practitioner of their craft. At the same time, the municipal cost share of building a new Northeast Regional Vocational School is simply unaffordable to many communities. For this reason, I was pleased to testify in favor of using Federal stimulus (ARPA) monies in the amount of $300 million to subsidize the municipal portion of building three new vocational schools around the Commonwealth. Vocational schools represent opportunity, and the use of this one-time Federal money is an appropriate use of this money.”
Giannino expressed her support for building a new vocational school, and like Turco, she noted that communities might not be able to afford the additional debt they would incur from the construction costs.
“The students of the Sixteenth Suffolk District deserve the best opportunities and educational experiences that the Commonwealth have to offer,” said Giannino. “With the current vocational schools reaching capacity, many qualified students are being put on waiting lists or not being accepted at all; this is hindering the opportunity of pursuing fruitful careers in the trades for less fortunate students. For this reason, building the new vocational school is important, however the taxpayers of Gateway City communities like Revere and Chelsea, cannot afford the additional debt that is required to fund the new school.
“ARPA funding is a great opportunity to fill this gap and support a shovel-ready project like the new vocational school to ensure that the students of Revere, Saugus and Chelsea continue to receive a first-class education.”
Caggiano said if any one of the 12 communities in the district decides to not support the new school project, there would be a vote in all 12 communities (in a special election).
“If the popular vote passes, we would go forward, but the project would be delayed, and that could affect our funding from the state – but it will affect our building costs,” said Caggiano.