The Winthrop School Building Assistance Committee (SBAC) voted 14-4 in favor of building a new Middle School and High School during a joint Winthrop School Building Assistance Committee/Winthrop School Committee meeting at the Cummings School Cafetorium last Thursday.
Of the 18 members of the School Building Assistance committee present at last week’s meeting (3 were absent),14 voted for Option B which is to build a new middle/high school building. Four members voted for Option A, which is to renovate renovate the existing high school building and add a new addition for a middle school.
“No one voted for Option C,which was just a renovation of the current high school for grades,9-12,” said School Building Assistance Committee member Mary Lou Osborne. “The School Committee then voted to affirm the preferred option choice of the School Building Assistance committee.”
Prior to the vote, the committees discussed results of the school building survey and followed up with information from the January 3rd School Building Assistance Committee Meeting that brought members of both committees up-to-date before voting.
Last month, Winthrop Public School (WPS) Superintendent John Macero presented the three options to town residents during a community-wide meeting and during a meeting at the Winthrop Senior Center.
The first option is an expansion renovation on the existing Winthrop High School. The plan would consist of renovating the current high school and adding a second facility that would serve as the townâ€™s middle school. The cost of that project would be $68.9 million with the townâ€™s share of the cost set at $36 million.
The second option, which is the option gaining support from a majority of Winthrop residents, is to tear down the existing high school and build a brand new facility that would house both a high school and middle school that would operate independently of one another. The cost of that project would be $83 million with the townâ€™s share of the cost set at $43 million.
The third and least popular option is to renovate only the current high school building. The cost of that project would be $53 million with the townâ€™s share of the cost set at $28 million.
Since June, the Committee has been working on the Feasibility Phase of the school building process as proscribed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority as Winthropâ€™s partner in this non-entitlement competitive grant program. Winthrop has hired Skanska as a Project Manager and HMFH as a Design Firm.
“As consultants that are conversant with the MSBA school building process, they have been guiding Winthrop through this exciting opportunity to realize a renovated high school or renovated or new combination middle school/high school for the community of Winthro,” explained Osborne last week. “As the project is supported by the Winthrop voters, MSBA has made a commitment to a base rate of 54.16% reimbursement of eligible costs, with the possibility of adding more percentage points of reimbursement rate for reimbursable costs should the project so qualify.”
The School Building Assistance Committee has been reaching out to the community via input meetings with various groups and town-wide meetings over the course of the last several months.
“Many groups, including town employees and elected and appointed officials, realizing the great opportunity to enhance the capital assets of the town through a school building program that will effectively be 50% funded by the state are working together in support to make this chance to make improvements to our high school and middle school buildings a reality,” said Osborne. “If townspeople wish to continue to keep up with whatâ€™s new in the process or have heard something about the process but wish to catch up, and or wish to express a concern or ask a question, they are always welcome to attend the twice monthly meetings which are posted at Winthrop Town Hall and on the town calendar, usually the first and third Thursdays of the month.”
The WPS has also launch a survey on their websiteâ€™s homepage at www.winthrop.k12.ma.us where residents can log on and vote for the proposal they like the best.
The next meeting of the School Building Assistance Committee is scheduled for Thursday,February 7th at 6 p.m. at the Cummings School Multi-purpose room.