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To the editor:
On Tuesday, Jan. 25, voters in Northeast Metro Tech’s 12 sending communities will be asked to approve construction of a new school building through a special referendum.
As members of the administration, School Committee, and School Building Committee, we would like to explain our rationale for pursuing and proposing the project:
- Northeast Metro Tech opened in 1968. The building is past its expected lifespan. Many shop areas do not meet the minimum state requirements.
- The District serves more than 1,300 students each year, plus another 1,300post-graduate adults through night and weekend training courses.
- The current building does not meet the demand for career technical education. Only about 40 percent of eighth graders who apply are accepted into Northeast. Increasing capacity to 1,600 will offer eighth graders considerably more opportunities to chart their career path.
- The current building does not meet the requirements of the state Architectural Access Board or the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, meaning Northeast does not offer equal opportunity to every child in our District.
- A new state-of-the-art building would provide 21st century education giving graduates skills that prepare them for high-paying jobs in high-demand fields.
The School Building Committee has held dozens of open public meetings. Members have worked with officials in each community, listening to their suggestions, and addressing their concerns. We believe the building proposal represents the best possible outcome of those discussions.
The final building proposal also has been vetted and approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), which follows a detailed process to ensure that plans for a new school are both cost-effective and educationally appropriate.
Questions have been raised about the cost of a new Northeast. It is important to note that school construction costs have more than doubled in the past decade. Further, technical schools require specialized shop equipment and must be substantially larger than a traditional school, thus adding to the cost. Even with these specialty items and design considerations, the school’s current cost per square foot is below other current traditional school project costs.
Polls will be open in each community on Jan. 25 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A “yes” vote would accept the MSBA’s grant of 76.84 percent reimbursement and authorize the District to proceed with construction. The new Northeast Metro Tech would open for the start of the 2025-2026 school year.
A “no” vote would require the district to restart the multi-year MSBA process from the beginning, delaying construction for several years while both building costs and interest rates are rising.
Voters can learn more about the building project at https://northeastbuildingproject.com/ ahead of the referendum on Jan. 25.
Superintendent, Northeast Metro Tech
Chair, Northeast Metro Tech School Committee