Published in the December 14, 2017 edition.


WAKEFIELD — Any hopes for a new Wakefield Memorial High School will have to be pushed another year into the future, as Wakefield again did not make the cut this year in the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s competitive grant program for state assistance in addressing the building deficiencies at Wakefield High School.

Wakefield submitted a “Statement of Interest” (SOI) for the High School early in 2017. Submitting an SOI is the first step in the MSBA’s program for school building construction, addition, renovation and repair grants. The SOI allows districts to inform the MSBA about deficiencies that may exist in a local school facility and how those deficiencies inhibit the delivery of the district’s educational program.

“We did not make it into the MSBA partnership for 2018, which is disappointing,” School Superintendent Dr. Kim Smith told the School Committee this week. Smith said that she received a call from the MSBA last Friday ahead of a letter that arrived Monday informing her that Wakefield Memorial High School was not accepted into the program again this year. The district has been submitting Statements of Interest for the high school for several years. The $74 million Galvin Middle School was built with the MSBA picking up approximately 50 percent of eligible construction costs.

Smith said that the MSBA received 83 SOIs from 59 school districts in the latest round. That list was narrowed down to 44, Smith said, including Wakefield. 

“After that, it came down to the schools that were in the worst disrepair,” Smith said, “as there is just a finite amount of money.” Smith said that MSBA representatives told her that they recalled coming out to the high school for a site visit last year and encouraged Wakefield to re-apply again next year. 

“We certainly intend to do that,” Smith said.

Among the many deficiencies at WMHS, some of the most significant are related to the building envelope and its lack of thermal insulation as well as the outdated mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems and their poor functionality and energy efficiency, according to the SOI.

The majority of the HVAC equipment and distribution systems are between 44 to 56 years old and have outlived their useable service life, according to the SOI. The HVAC systems lack adequate temperature control due to the antiquated pneumatic control system which experiences failures.

The majority of the plumbing systems are original to the building. Portions of the system have been updated as part of minor building renovations and upgrade projects. The plumbing systems are functional but have exceeded their useful service life.

The building has two electrical services which are secondary metered, according to the SOI. The power distribution system is original and in poor condition. Most of the lighting systems have been retrofitted with new lamps and ballasts but light switches and wiring are original.

A major concern has been an ongoing situation regarding accreditation of the high school. The poor state of the science facilities within the school in terms of the condition of equipment, lab and classroom layouts, safety considerations and the non-functioning status of the building-integral lab equipment such as the fume hoods have been noted by the state. The district was put on notice in October 2011 that these conditions must be improved or the high school would be in danger of losing its accreditation. 

Other building deficiencies identified in the SOI relate to the roof, boilers, flooring, doors, classroom layout and handicapped accessibility.

Wakefield Memorial High School was originally built as a junior high school in 1960. In 1972, the junior high was converted to the extent possible into the current high school through the construction of major additions to the north and south of the school, providing an additional 167,000 square feet of academic and support spaces. The additions included a two-story library, new classroom wings, a new kitchen and cafeteria and a new field house including locker rooms and training facilities.