By JOSH RESNEK
Assistant School Superintendent Charlie Obremski told the city council Monday night that a new high school is needed, is being applied for, and thus a five-year effort has begun.
Councilors questioned Obremski, who came prepared, as is his pro forma.
Obremski was knowledgeable, informed, and adept at treating everyone who questioned him with respect.
“The overcrowding of the schools is a real problem. We’re trying to deal with it as best
we can. Right now, we’re just putting in a document of “interest” to put us in line for another school. Again, that will take about five years. We need a long-term solution,” Obremski told the city council.
“It could cost as much as $400 million – $450 million,” Obremski said in response to a series of questions from the councilors.
The state will reimburse the city approximately 78%-80% of the total cost, which will still leave the city with a substantial financial responsibility.
CFO Eric Demas said the state reimbursement rate will likely change, and that the state will fund less for the city than in years past.
Councilor Anthony DiPierro estimated that the city could be on the line to pay as much as $90 million or more after the state reimbursement.
No councilor nor the CFO took into consideration the $30 million a year in revenues from the Encore Boston Harbor that would accrue to $150 million if they were not entirely spent before the five year period has passed, making it possible for the city to finance the $90 million instead of bonding it at a great cost to the city’s taxpayers.
Where exactly a new facility the size of the present high school might be located is a mystery for the city officials who met about this Monday night.
“Nothing is etched in stone tonight. We’re just submitting a request,” Obremski repeated several times. He wanted to make sure the council understood the time frame is lengthy. He was transparent throughout the questioning.
Councilor Jimmy Tri Le wondered if the old high school could be raised two or three stories to accommodate the extra numbers of students coming online in the school system. A great idea to ponder, by the way.
“We would still have to separate grades if this was done. It makes it difficult,” Obremski answered.
Le asked if the old high school was raised to 8 floors would that that be possible?
“I don’t know. I’d have to ask an architect,” Obremski added. “Please do that,” Le replied.