Stoneham Prepares Its Pitch for a New High School...Again
Oct 04, 2018 10:30PM
● By Dan Marra
STONEHAM – For the last four years, the town of Stoneham has put in a request to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) requesting their support in building a new high school. This year marks the town’s fifth request.
The MSBA will be travelling to Stoneham High School on October 10 for a site visit. It’s one of dozens the MSBA makes this time of year as it works to select between 15 and 20 projects to fund out of the more than 150 applications the organization received.
Stoneham Superintendent John Macero, who is in his second year on the job, is hopeful to get the MSBA’s support for a new school, calling the current high school a “tired building.” Macero has some experience with the MSBA as well, having been the superintendent at Winthrop when they received funding to build a new middle/high school.
Schools that are approved, receive a certain percentage of the project cost from the MSBA.
Macero said there are three options for the current high school – renovation, rebuild sections of the high school or build a brand new building. However, according to Macero, eventually the town will need to do make a decision with the high school with or without the support of the MSBA.
“Something has to happen,” Macero said. “If we don’t get accepted by MSBA this year, as a community, we need to look and see if it’s more equitable to do the project on our own. The longer we wait, eventually the cost will even out.”
Macero’s sentiment regarding the current state of the high school is shared with many in the community. Liz Erk, who started a Facebook group specifically focused on a new high school, said that a new building could help the community immensely.
“We have amazing teachers here in Stoneham and we need to give them a better environment to teach in,” Erk said.
When she first visited the school with her daughter, Erk initially noticed the smell and was taken aback by the state of the school.
“It’s a crumbling building,” she said. “I was shocked the first time I went there. Doors are dented; there was a constant beeping sound. I don’t know how the teachers and students do it.”
But Macero is hopeful this will be the year for Stoneham.
According to the MSBA, two of their top three priorities are given to districts whose building is structurally unsound and who are in danger of losing their accreditation.
Stoneham had a visit from the New England Association of High School and Colleges last year and while the district did well instructionally, the town’s accreditation was given a warning due to the current state of its high school building.
Additionally, for the first time since they’ve started this application process, Stoneham has seen its enrollment numbers increase. According to Macero, the district had an increase of about 60 kids since the town updated the middle school.
“I feel optimistic about this year,” Macero said. “I think we have a good shot, but we can’t get upset at the MSBA. They have limited funds and there could be other districts that have a more demanding need than we do. Regardless, we’re going to keep plugging away because we need to something.”