Published in the November 9, 2015 edition.


NORTH READING — Northeast Metropolitan Regional Technical High School has begun laying the groundwork for either building or renovating a new school, school officials told the North Reading School Committee last week.

Northeast Metro Tech Superintendent Ted Nickole, Northeast Metro Tech Principal Dave DiBarri and North Reading’s representative on the Northeast Metro Tech School Committee, Judy Dyment, appeared before the school board to give an overview of the technical high school’s programs as well as discuss the need for a new or renovated school.

Northeast Metro Tech High School is a four–year public regional vocational high school. The Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School District is comprised of 12 communities north of Boston. According to the technical high school’s website, Northeast Metro Tech strives to “provide services and programs to meet students needs in the areas of vocational, academic, physical, social, ethical, moral and emotional development.”

Nickole said Northeast Metro Tech has begun undertaking a “pre-feasibility study” of the high school to see what next steps school officials should take. He said he has begun meeting with several officials in district communities to discuss potential plans of either renovating the existing school or building a new one.

“They have asked for two or three concepts and different levels to look at because we are dealing with 12 communities,” said Nickole. “We have to satisfy a lot of different needs.”

Nickole said the three concepts currently being developed are renovating the existing high school, renovating and expanding the high school and building a brand new Northeast Metro Tech.

Nickole said Northeast Metro Tech has “a whole section of property we could build a new (school) on.” However, he said renovating a school is difficult because “children have to be moved around” and construction work can distract students.

“It’s difficult being in a building that is being renovated,” said Nickole.

(Editor’s note: Wakefield Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio said this morning there is a possibility a new vocational school in Wakefield could include a hockey rink and a new pool.)

According to Nickole, Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) representatives visited Northeast Metro Tech three years ago to examine the building. He said the MSBA informed school officials the technical high school is a “prime candidate” to receive state funding for the project and could be reimbursed up to 71 percent of the project’s total cost.

“It’s very high because of our demographics,” said Nickole. “We are very excited about it.”

Dyment concurred with Nickole’s sentiment.

“We are going to be looking for support from all of our communities moving forward with our new school,” said Dyment. “I am hoping we can get that.”

There are 1,250 students enrolled at Northeast Metro Tech, 64 of whom call Wakefield home. Nickole noted the high school was built for 900 students.

“It’s very crowded,” said Nickole.

The presentation began with Northeast Metro Tech officials showing a 10-minute video of the technical high school’s programs. Nickole said the video is shown to eighth graders in the 12 communities the high school serves.

“This is not a traditional school,” said Nickole in the video.

The video showed students’ working in a series of different trades such as nursing, electricity, welding, cooking, hair dressing, drafting and design and graphic design.

Nickole said it’s competitive for eighth graders to be accepted into Northeast Metro Tech. He said the technical high school receives almost 700 applications each year while there are 300 spots available.

“It’s difficult to get into Northeast,” said Nickole. “We have a lot of kids in the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society.”

DiBarri said Northeast Metro Tech emphasizes “hands on training” in the 15 vocational programs the high school offers.

As part of Northeast Metro Tech’s exploratory program, DiBarri said freshmen “get to spend every other week in different shops.”

“At the end of their freshman year, students choose which shop they want to spend the next three and a quarter years in,” DiBarri said.

Nickole said Northeast Metro Tech officials believe it was important to the show the School Committee the video because it would give committee members an overview of the technical high school.

Nickole said vocational high schools are not always right for every student.

“Not everyone belongs in a vocational school but for the kids who strive to get into the trades, it’s a fantastic place for them,” said Nickole. “We have very good luck with your students. They are great kids and we hope to service them well.”

Dyment agreed.

“We have a lot to be proud of,” said Dyment.

Dyment also noted Northeast Metro Tech has partnered with Moynihan Lumber has part of a new project where students will be constructing new picnic benches for Ipswich River Park.

“We really believe in community involvement,” said Dyment.

Northeast Metro Tech serves the communities of Chelsea, Malden, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Revere, Saugus, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester, Winthrop and Woburn.