The Everett City Council and the Everett School Department have agreed to take the first step in the process to request state building funds for school construction, following a vote of the Council last week that authorized the school department administration to submit the required “Statement of Interest” for a new school building project to the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
The move followed a request by the school administration and mounting evidence pointing to a lack of needed classroom space in Everett’s existing school buildings.
According to Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Thomas Stella, every school in the city is currently over capacity, as the district as seen an increase in enrollment across all grade levels as the city’s population has continued to grow.
A report released by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council earlier this year showed both an increase in birth rates per year over the past ten years, as well as a growing trend of new families moving into the district.
Additionally, the strict has been able to point to overcrowding in all schools, but has specifically pinpointed the rapid growth in the Keverian Elementary School neighborhood as a factor in the request. The Keverian School, which was built to accommodate 650 students, currently has an enrollment of more than 920.
The City Council’s vote to authorize the Statement of Interest and the district’s intent to send that letter, do not constitute a commitment on behalf of the city. The Statement of Interest simply makes the MSBA aware of the need in Everett and gives the needed data and information to compare that need with the need of other school districts seeking school building assistance.
“The way this works,” explained Stella. “Every district that is facing an issue or wants to build a school or make renovations, is going to submit a State of Interest to the MSBA. Then the MSBA will prioritize those requests and determine which projects move forward to the next stage of the process first.”
Once a school project has been designated by the MSBA, the project is placed into a very prescriptive schedule, which provides guidelines and targets for the district and the community as they move through the school building process. At any step in that process, before funding is awarded by the MSBA, a project can be withdrawn or be terminated, if local officials feel they cannot make the project works for the proposing community.