Leader Herald Staff
Following a great deal of public protest, the new Everett High School, which is not new anymore, was overcrowded the day it opened its doors in September 2007.
It replaced the outdated former high school location on Broadway.
It was built at a cost of almost several hundred million dollars.
When the new EHS opened, it was touted as the precious gem of the city’s public schools.
In the debate about the Pope John School being used as a facility to reduce serious overcrowding throughout the school system, the present high school is mentioned as though it is out of date, over crowded and in need of a new reason to exist.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria wants a new high school to be built, not so much to replace the present high school on Elm Street, rather, to house more students and a wider program of study aimed at preparing Everett’s high school students for careers in the trades or technology.
Right now, there is precious little pushing students toward areas in the local economy where they might find employment when they graduate from high school.
The mayor believes he may be able to wrap up an approval from the state to schedule a new high school to be built here by December or January.
He has apparently been working toward that end.
However, the new high school could cost over $500 million to build, and to fill with furniture and labs, and workshops of all kinds intended to produce a legion of carpenters, electricians, plumbers, computer specialists and on and on.
It is believed such a facility might take as many as ten years to complete from start to finish.
Then there is the matter of the old high school on Broadway, which the mayor and others have touted as a possible rehab to be used instead of Pope John.
Engineers and builders reporting back recently on behalf of the mayor and the superintendent of schools all agreed, the Broadway former high school is beyond redemption. It can be brought back but at a cost that makes such an effort prohibitive, with a time line that does nothing for at least 5 years to solve the overcrowding issue.
The cost is estimated at more than $140 million.
Pope John is estimated to cost anywhere from $40 million to $76 million, according to experts reporting to the mayor and the superintendent.
The city council has been stumbling toward choosing Pope John as the easiest, sanest, most cost effective way out of overcrowding.
Last week, Superintendent Priya Tahiliani grew uneasy with talk about a new high school and or fixing up the old high school at the city council meeting.
“Something needs to be done now. We need to start now. We can’t wait ten years or even 5 years. We need to get going right away. We can’t afford to wait another 6 months,” she said.
The overcrowding emergency and how to deal with it is coming to a head.
The mayor’s dream is a first class idea.
Two major components are lacking – time and the money it will cost.