Wakefield, MA — Superintendent David DiBarri, the Northeast Metro Tech School Committee and School Building Committee are pleased to share that they were joined by local and state officials Wednesday as they broke ground on a new school building that will expand and modernize facilities and serve students from a dozen member communities for over 50 years.
“This new school will solidify the existence of career technical education for the next 50 plus years, changing the lives of thousands of local residents for generations to come,” said School Building Committee Chairman Theodore Nickole. “That’s something special that we’ve all done together. Just think of it: For the next 50 years, kids and their kids and grandchildren being here. That’s really exciting to me.”
Northeast, built in 1968, currently serves about 1,300 students in its career technical education programs, but only has the capacity to accept 41 percent of applicants each year. The building has outlived its intended lifespan. The new facility will expand capacity to serve about 1,600 students; will modernize shops and technology within the building to meet the demands of employers and industries; improve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; improve access to school grounds for both buses and drivers, and significantly reduce the school’s carbon footprint.
A team made up of Northeast officials, School Committee members from all 12 communities that Northeast serves, and construction experts spent more than four years developing a plan for a new building. The team worked in partnership with officials in sending communities, listening to suggestions and concerns, to develop a building plan that is cost-effective, environmentally sound, and fiscally responsible.
The new facility will be built next to the current school while classes continue uninterrupted. It is scheduled to be completed in 2026.
Nickole thanked Northeast Metro Tech alumni from the school’s 12 sending communities, and said their support in public forums and on social media were key to getting member communities to support the proposal at the ballot box.
“They want this school here for their children and their grandchildren, and that’s what we all want,” Nickole said.
School Committee Chair Deborah P. Davis thanked the administration, her fellow board members and the School Building Committee for their hard work, but said she wanted to thank the voters in the schools’ member communities most of all for their support.
“We will be providing our 12 member communities with the finest vocational education and a brand new, state-of-the-art facility for many years to come,” Davis said.
Former Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert Deleo, who was instrumental at times in helping the project move forward, said the new school will be a win for the entire state, and not just the 12 member communities, because of the value and importance of career technical education.
“I can tell you that although this is a wonderful ceremony, this is really not an event about the first step. This is really a celebration,” DeLeo said. “This is a celebration because I see this school, and all the vocational schools throughout this state, as being major engines for the economy of Massachusetts.”
The approximately $317.4 million project will receive approximately $138 million in support from the Massachusetts School Building Committee, whose executive director spoke at the groundbreaking. The balance of the costs will be paid by sending communities based on the number of students attending the school.
MSBA Executive Director Jack McCarthy said that as he visits building projects around the state, he enjoys those at vocational-technical schools the most because of the passion of the students.
“They’re here because they really want to be here in this school to learn the trades and the things that they’re learning,” McCarthy said.
Students in the Culinary Arts and Design and Visual Communications programs helped organize the groundbreaking ceremony. Culinary students provided hors d’oeuvres, popcorn and other snacks, and Design and Visual Communications students helped prepare gifts for the event, the event program, and greeted guests on Thursday.
“The quality of this new building will serve students and change their lives for the better for decades to come, facilitating their growth and helping them to find clear pathways for the rest of their lives. Each brick and beam that goes into this building will help build the lives of future students,” said Superintendent DiBarri. “I am so grateful for the support from our sending communities and excited for the future of all those in our communities who chose Northeast Metro Tech and the paths that we provide to the future.”