New Campus Location Among Options to be Considered by High School Task Force
The task force will look at short-term and long-term needs of the aging high school building.
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone has established a new task force to evaluate the condition of Somerville's aging high school and make recommendations about its long-term future, including the possibility of building a new school at a different site.
According to Jackie Rossetti, a spokesperson for the city, the task force will first meet sometime after the new year. She didn't know how long it would take the task force to make recommendations, but suspected it would be sometime in the upcoming year.
The task force will consider immediate needs to the high school's building and facilities, and also long-term needs.
Rossetti stressed the high school is structurally sound and safe for students, but the building is also old and crumbling. A study conducted by the Maguire Group, released in January, determined the school needed about $9.5 worth of repairs within four years—$500,000 of which needed to be conducted as soon as possible.
Problems included exterior brick that was shearing off, cracked window sills, window problems and roof problems, among other things. When the high school went through its accreditation process in 2010, the New England Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges also pointed out deterioration to the school building, Rossetti said.
This fall, Hurricane Sandy caused further damage to the roof.
According to the Maguire Group's report, the central part of the high school was built in 1895, the area with the library dates back to 1929, and the new gymnasium and Somerville Technical High School wing of the school was built in 1986. There haven't been significant updates to the school since then.
While evaluating the school's condition, the task force will consider needed repairs and examine the possibility of building a new high school elsewhere.
In terms of possible new locations, there aren't any specific options and everything is on the table, Rossetti said.
Members of the task force will include Tony Ciccariello, former headmaster of the school; Tom Bent of Bent Electric; Howard Horton, president of the New England College of Business and Finance; Paul Bockelman, chair of the Somerville School Committee; Alderman At-Large John Connolly; Skip Bandini, capital projects manager for Somerville; Rob King, the city engineer; Omar Boukili, aide to the mayor; and Judith Felix and Donna Haynes, community members.