Thursday, June 29, 2017

South High approved for Schematic Design yesterday

Yesterday, as reported in today's T&G, South High was approved for Schematic Design at the Mass School Building Authority meeting in Boston. It is approval for a new building, with a budget (MSBA estimates) of $191M.
You can find what the city (remember, the city, not the schools, build buildings) submitted here, though be warned that it's a big file that takes awhile. That and the preliminary submission from January. are at this point all we have to look at. That page off of South High's main page has no record of meetings--though they have to have had public meetings in order to vote--and no posted agendas--though, again, that has to have happened for the votes to have happened.

In fact, information about what's going on with this building project has been next to nothing, aside from a single T&G article in which Scott O'Connell interviewed Superintendent Binienda who explained that renovation had been considered (as required by MSBA), but:
School officials had been focused primarily on either rebuilding South High or renovating it extensively. The base repair option wouldn’t make any significant changes to the building, only fix existing issues, and Ms. Binienda said in the end, the other two options “were going to cost the same price.”
She also said the renovation option would be more disruptive to students, who would be displaced while the old school was under construction, and take longer than building a new facility, based on the district’s project team’s findings.
This is hardly a surprise, if you follow school building projects, but, outside of the few words here, who would know how this decision was made, or its merits? The relative merits of decisions already made--dropping the pool (suggested in the first round plan), expanding the Ch. 74 programs, adding a piano lab and foreign language labs, and so forth--are ones we have no insight into.

We're about to spend close to $200M on a new high school for the city. It's all public money, even if most of it comes from the state. It's supposed to serve all of our kids.

We should know more than we do. We should be invited to take part.
We haven't been.

EDITED TO ADD: a couple of screenshots of the approved design (thus far) after the jump:

This is two mock-ups from either direction: on the top, Apricot Street is at the bottom of the shot, and we're looking across the street at the campus; on the bottom, Apricot Street is at the top.

This gives an idea of how it all goes together: the ballfield as it is behind Sullivan, a new track facility and a new building. Note that all of this is on WPS property, though (EDITED) the orange triangles are NOT; they're on conservation land. So they're building right out to the line. 

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