Winchester Considers Upgrading High School
There is a public meeting tonight in the Winchester High School auditorium where the committee will present the project overview including new site possibilities.
The Educational Facilities Planning and Building Committee wants your input on what a new or refurbished Winchester High School could mean to the town.
The EFPBC will outline the project details tonight at 7 in the Winchester High School auditorium in a public meeting regarding the high school feasibility study.
Over the course of four and a half days, there have been 26 program meetings. These meetings have included topographical and geotechnical site analysis, existing facility analysis and a traffic study, which needs to be assessed in September when traffic will be at normal in-school levels.
The goals of this project are to create a 21st century teaching and learning environment with the flexibility for future teaching methods and support for special education and student work. This includes a facility that can be properly used for after-hours activities and parking for special events. The committee also plans to optimize the site circulation of pick-up and drop-off traffic, incorporate playing fields, roadways and natural elements in a newly integrated campus.
Bob Deering, chairman of the EFPBC, said the goals of the project are to create an asset that is representative of the community. The committee will do this by gathering feedback over the course of the next few months.
"The new facility should be the best in class facility to promote and enhance educational excellence in all program areas, with a particular emphasis on facilities for science, technology and the arts," Deering said. "Part of that goal is to deliver this on time and within the budget.”
The options for moving forward on these projects include the current high school being renovated and upgraded or a new high school being built in the current location or elsewhere.
Alternative sites ideas include:
- Mystic River Reservation
- Winchester Park Department Land
- Leonard Field
- Mullen Field
- Westside Fields
- Sunset Road Site – Kraft General Foods
- Manchester Field – McCall Junior High School
- Parkhurst School and Mount Pisgah
- Lynch School
- Wright-Locke Farm
- Skillings Field
Deering provided an overview of each of the sites:
- The Mystic River Reservation is a 15-acre site, which is currently DCR state park land with floodplain issues and a grand total of five usable acres.
- The Winchester Department Land is a 28.9-acre site, which is Park Department land on the southern border of Medford. Deering said this plan would need to be further pursued.
- Leonard Field is a 12.7-acre site with only five or six usable acres of Park Department land. This plan will not be further pursued.
- Mullen Field is a 9.52-acre site located on the western town border near Wright-Locke Farm. This land is also Park Department land and topography limits the useful area to seven or eight acres.
- The Westside Fields is a 7.5-acre site, which is located in the center of town. This is also Park Department land.
- The Sunset Road – Kraft General Foods site is a 16.4-acre site located on the Northern Border of town near Woburn. This site is almost entirely within the floodplain.
- Manchester Field – McCall Junior High School is a 12.5-acre site near the Town Center. About eight or nine acres in this site are within the floodplain. Another drawback to this site is that McCall Middle School is already using this land. This site will not likely be further pursued.
- The Parkhurst School and Mount Pisgah site is about 15-acres. An issue with this site is that eight of the acres belong to the Water Department and 3.4 acres belong to the Park Department. The school site is too small, and the site is difficult to access. It is doubtful that the EFBC will pursue this plan.
- The Lynch School site is an 18-acre site located on the Northern town border of Woburn, which is disjointed and 10 acres are contiguous Water Department land. The play fields are within the floodplain and the floodway. Deering said this site would be pursued further.
- Wright-Locke Farm is an open site with 20 acres located on the Western border of town. The topography is challenging and there are some wetlands, which also present challenges. This site will be further pursued.
- Skillings Field is a 16-acre site, with approximately two-thirds of the site in the floodway and nearly the entire site within the floodplain. This site will be further pursed.
After tonight’s meeting, the EFPBC will hold meetings Wednesday, June 13 and Wednesday, Sept. 12 with hopes of submitting the preliminary design to the Massachusetts School Building Authority on Wednesday, Oct. 10. From there, the MSBA will decide how much money to dedicate to the project.
The MSBA meets in January.
The town will have 120 days to secure funding once the MSBA approves the final design.
“This is a major investment,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Jim Johnson said. “This is the most expensive project the town will see in 20 years.”