Superintendent of Schools John Macero provided a comprehensive update on the new schools project at the Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast meeting Tuesday at the Lodge of Elks.
Macero, a member of the School Building Assistance Committee chaired by Marylou Osborne and David Dockendorf, said the committee looked at several options, conducted a survey of Winthrop residents, and decided to advance a proposal to build a brand new middle/high school for students in grades 6-12.
Macero said the school project would be built on the current site of the high school.
“We’ll use the same footprint and there will be a three-floor building – the high school on the left and the middle school on the right,” said Macero. “In the middle of the auditorium would be the auditorium, the cafeterias, and the gymnasium.”
Macero said the majority of residents favored isolating the middle school from the high school. “[People] accented that there needs to be separation of those schools.”
He said that once the exact final cost of the project is determined, Winthrop residents would vote in the September or November election whether or not to approve the project.
Macero said a key element in the school construction process is that the town would receive a grant to cover 54 percent of the total cost of the new schools project that is estimated at $83 million.
“That’s huge in the sense that if we didn’t have a grant and wanted to do this on our own, it would be 100 percent expense,” said Macero. “We will not go below 54 percent. We have the ability to increase from 54 percent. The more points we increase, the less burden we have on the taxpayer.”
Macero said there would be separate entrances for middle school and high school students.
One addition to the new school would be an area for vocational education programs. There would also be a pre-school classroom at the high school led by a pre-school teacher who will be assisted by high school students who could eventually earn certification as pre-school teachers. The new school would also have an area for the Life Skills program and the Viking Longships program.
“The people we talked to at the Massachusetts School Building Authority were very enthusiastic about our design,” said Macero. “They said we took a space, were very concise with it and built it to the needs we need.”
A Winthrop resident and business owner, Macero said “this is a great time for us in Winthrop. We started to see a lot of things being done finally, the Winthrop Hospital project, the possibility of the temple [project], the work at the beach.
“I think a beautiful, brand new facility would really be very attractive for this Winthrop community,” said Macero. “I think this is something we really need to explore and look at and see the value of it.”