On Thursday night, the Winthrop School Building Assistance Committee picked three options to move forward with future school development, and give the team from Hill Miller Friedleander Hollander (HMFH) the ability to advance with their designs for the new junior/senior high school. This allows for the three highest voted plans to be recommended to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) and the architects at HMFH to pursue.
Option B, demolishing the old high school and erecting a new one in its place, ranked most popular among members, with 38 votes. Option A, adding a third floor to the existing high school and renovating the building, received 27 votes. Option D, constructing a new 6-12th grade school in the neighboring floodplain by the present high school, received the least support with 8 votes.
Option D and another Option E, as proposed by the HMFH, involves building in the floodplain, which would be costly to the town, and could be rejected by the Massachusetts School Building Authority because other choices would not require construction in an area naturally prone to flooding. Also, taking one of the biggest open areas in Winthrop, and cutting it in half seems unwise.
Option A is desirable because it does not displace children during the gutting of the high school.
Option B appears to be the most viable because a new high school with updated amenities would be built using most, if not all, of the present foundation, and all of the athletic fields would be kept intact. Although students will have to be moved to an interim location, they will be transferred to a healthier, cleaner place that has air conditioning.
Superintendent John Macero is exploring various spots to house students for swing space when the new buildings are being constructed. Relocating the 6th and 7th grades into St. John’s School in Winthrop has been the most practical and popular suggestion thus far. The 8th – 12th grades would fit into the present middle school. Another possibility is having modular buildings on the site of the middle school, which would be quicker, less expensive, and take up less valuable space from the community. Macero will be conducting a traffic study to express how construction will impact traffic and the community in the event that certain roads (Main St. or Cross St.) may be closed down during construction.