New high school dream ten years away; so costly it might never happen

A new Everett High School is needed. (Photo by Joe Resnek)

By Josh Resnek

The dream of a new Everett High School to replace the crowded Everett High School on Elm Street is just that…a dream.

At last week’s city council meeting, Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani was asked to send to the Massachusetts School Building Authority a request for a new high school in Everett.

The measure passed the city council by a unanimous vote.

That vote was preceded by affirmative votes several months back by the city council and the school committee to use former Pope John High School facility as a public school to mitigate the overcrowding now plaguing all the public schools in the city. Tahiliani last Monday warned the city council that efforts to have the state agency pay half for a new high school in Everett was appearing retrograde.

She said the process might likely take a decade.

Never the less, she notified the city council that the request from the city is being dealt with expeditiously.

The Everett request is believed to be a $500- $550 million ask.

Tahiliani told the city council that recent experience reveals that the state will not go beyond a 50% reimbursement for the cost of building, and stocking, a new high school.

The mayor’s dream is for a new high school to have a major technical school element to it. With a crying need for more tradesmen and women in today’s expanding job market place, having a high school that turns out dozens of younger people heading for the trades is a smart move.

The notion that every EHS student should attend a four year college is made a moot point for many kids who cannot possibly afford the college experience much less to pay for it for 30 years after graduation.

A new Everett High School is indeed a dream at this point.

Paying for the new school high school will have to be born largely by the taxpayer’s of Everett.

In nearby Wakefield, voters recently approved a tax increase for a new $275 million high school.

The state was willing to pony up about $70 million of that amount.

As a result, Wakefield property owners will be looking at adding $1,200 to $1,400 property tax increase that will be in effect from fiscal 2023 to fiscal 2058.

Seventy one per cent of the voters in Wakefield supported the building and funding of the new high school.

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges has placed the school on probation due to the outdated condition of its math and science classrooms.

Also, the existing high school, built as a junior high school in 1950 suffers from major deficiencies, numerous code violations and in- adequate handicap access.

In the Wakefield example, the state was willing to finance less than 25% of the total cost.

In Everett, where it is believed the state will finance as much as 50%, that would leave the taxpayers of the city to pony up as much as $250 million of the estimated $500 million cost.

That would require a monumental tax rise on properties here.

However, the mayor has noted that with added new investment rolling in, the city can weather the storm.

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