WAKEFIELD – Northeast Metropolitan Technical High School officials recently began studying options for replacing or renovating the 240,148 square foot vocational facility by Breakheart Reservtion.
According to Northeast Voc. Superintendent David DiBarri, a study committee has in recent weeks launched a feasibilty study as part of the Mass. School Building Authority’s (MSBA) funding evaluation process.
With the assistance of project management firm PMA Consultants and Waltham designer Drumney Rosane Anderson, a building committee is contributing some 20 different construction options.
Previously, DiBarri and other school officials have estimated it will cost at least $200 million to build an entirely new high school.
“Throughout the feasibility study, the team will evaluate all available construction options, including renovating the existing school to code, additions or renovations, and new construction,” DiBarri explained in a recent statement.
“Those options will be evaluated against a variety of criteria, including cost, but also on each one's ability to satisfy the district’s educational plan with projected enrollments,” the superintendent added.
Throughout the feasibility study, the team will evaluate all available construction options, including renovating the existing school to code, additions or renovations, and new construction.
Those options will be evaluated against a variety of criteria, including cost, but also on each one's ability to satisfy the district’s educational plan with projected enrollments. The feasibility study concludes with the project team selecting the single most appropriate option and seeking MSBA approval to advance.
The feasibility study also includes in-depth analyses of the existing building, as well as impacts of construction on the environment, traffic and other factors.
Northeast Metro Tech officials plan to submit a final feasbility report to the MSBA in August. The submission will identify the school district’s 12 top preferred construction options.
Should the state agency accept those findings, the Northeast School Building Committee will then begin work on a schematic design report that lists the district’s top choice for rebuilding That work should begin in January of 2021.
While the study group believes initial schedule remained attainable, the project team elected to extend its time frame slightly in the wake of COVID-19 in order to maximize public outreach through the key design phases, as in-person meetings have had to be replaced with virtual ones.
"A critical piece of making this process as successful as possible is ensuring that all of our stakeholders are involved throughout," DiBarri said. "We want to settle on a final project that will fulfill the needs of students for decades to come, and in order to that to happen the design process needs be both thoughtful and inclusive."
Constructed in 1968, Northeast Metro Tech’s facility off of Hemlock Road hasn’t undergone a major renovation since 1970.
In 2016, the vocational school’s regional School Committee allocated funding to conduct its own needs assessment study of the facility outside of the MSBA.
Newburyport architect Dore & Whittier, which led that analysis, ultimatlely forecasted it would cost around $56.2 million just to bring the facility up to current buiilding code and American Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
In addition, the consultants described the existing facility as in major disrepair and suffering from chronic overcrowding issues.
The high school, which is situated on a 42.73-acre campus, was designed to house roughly 900 pupils, but presently, the student body numbers around 1,200 pupils.
“It’s all hands on deck in terms of getting a new school,” Robert McCarthy, Reading’s representative on the Metro Tech School Committee, commented in 2017 after the Dore & Whittier report was released.