I like Councillor Leo McKinnon. He’s a good guy and more often than not, he’s got some decent ideas about where this city ought to be heading.
However every now and then, McKinnon goes a bit astray, as he did recently with a proposal hatched by him to convert the former Everett High School building into a technical school.
In a perfect world, such an idea might have some traction. But we are not experiencing a perfect world at this time and the idea for a technical school for those seeking a vocation at the old high school site has no traction because it is an impossible dream.
First, Everett children already have access to a fine vocational school within Everett High School itself, as well as access to almost 60 vocational schools across our state including the Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School in Wakefield, Massachusetts. (Presently, fewer than ten (10) Everett students are enrolled in outside Vocational programs.)
Second, McKinnon’s suggestion to use the old High School building on Broadway to house another school was investigated by the School Building Commission and the School Committee quite thoroughly ten years ago.
Third, severe cutbacks in state aid to Everett have already caused reductions in budgets for municipal services and staff, as well as reductions in budgets for public school staff and education programs. With little state funding available in the immediate future, possibly would the state cut aid from municipal services and our present education programs to help fund this vocational school?
If the cost of rehabilitating the old High School and staffing it (recently estimated to be $20 million plus), becomes the sole responsibility of this city, Everett’s tax rate will have to increase in order to pay for the vocational school’s expenses.
I seriously doubt, in fact I know Everett would not be successful in securing state funding for rehabilitation of the old High School.
The old high school building is an albatross – a big, old, decaying, bottomless money pit that needs a miracle more than anything else.
In this economic environment, and at a time when state resources have dried up and when the city treasury is badly in need of millions it does not have to move forward into the new Century, attempting a rehabilitation of the old high school for a vocational high school is a bit like building the Suez Canal again.
The city can’t afford it. Demand for such a facility is not apparent. The old high school building is not suitable for such a project.
The old high school, in all likelihood, will have to be ripped down at some point.
The city can’t afford to keep it standing much longer.
It is a total liability. An accident waiting to happen. An expensive blight without use sitting in a major spot on Broadway.
McKinnon is a man of the people and I know where he’s coming from but his idea for the old high school building is a red herring or as the Irish like to say, it has the essence of a three day old piece of Haddock.
In the best of times it would never fly.
During the worst of times it has no chance.
Who’s going to put $20 million into that piece of property for a vocational school?