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North Suburban News

Wakefield, Winchester Look Ahead After School Projects Not Selected

Dec 27, 2018 04:52PM ● By Dan Marra

WAKEFIELD – This past year, more than 150 schools applied to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) looking for state funds to build a new school. Only 17 were selected to move on to the funding round.

After five years of applying to the state, Stoneham is onestep closer to getting a new high school. However, Wakefield High School and Lynch Elementary in Winchester will need to reassess and consider their approach for next year.

According to Doug Lyons, Wakefield Superintendent, even though the high school project was not selected this year, the MSBA suggested the district not make any substantial changes to its application. However, one change the district could make to next year’s application could be in regards to its accreditation.

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) could lower Wakefield’s accreditation from warning to probation. The move could benefit the district’s hopes of being selected by the MSBA next year. Stoneham requested funds for its high school for the past five years, but it was only when NEASC threatened the high school’s accreditation over the state of its building was the town selected to move forward with the MSBA.

“There’s problems with the facility and the educational spaces with the current layout,” Lyons said. “It’s challenging to educate students in this setting; specifically it’s impacting our science labs.”

The school was built in 1960 and had an addition built in 1972. This was the third year in a row the high school was not selected to move on in the funding process by the MSBA. 

“The level of teaching being done is remarkable, considering the state of the building,” Lyons said. “Imagine what could be accomplished if the teachers had a brand new building.”

In Winchester, a decision will be made in the coming weeks about next steps with the Lynch Elementary School.

Lynch – a projected $50 million project - is the next school on the town's list to be improved. Winchester Superintendent Judy Evans  said that the school committee will reconsider whether to submit another application for Lynch in January.

“We understand that there any many worthy projects that have not been funded this year,” Lynch said.

Even though enrollment growth is a key metric, Winchester was not selected to move on. The town is one of the fastest growing districts in the state in terms of school enrollment. In the last 10 years, while Massachusetts saw a decrease in enrollment of 1.5 percent, Winchester saw an increase of more than 17 percent.

“We’re out of space at Lynch,” Evans said. “There are no more classrooms in that district. We’re now using rooms that were not designed as classrooms.”

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