ARTIST’S RENDERING of the main entrance to the proposed Northeast Metro Tech. Voters will be asked to approve construction in a District-wide referendum on Jan. 25. (Courtesy Northeast Metro Tech)
WAKEFIELD — Superintendent David DiBarri and the Northeast Metro Tech Building Committee announce that voters across the District’s 12 sending communities will have the opportunity to approve plans for a new state-of-the-art school building later this month.
Northeast currently serves about 1,300 students in its career technical education programs, but only has the capacity to accept 41 percent of applicants each year. Another 1,300 post-graduates and adults benefit from Northeast’s night or weekend training programs to advance their careers.
However, Northeast was built in 1968 and the facility has outlived its intended lifespan. Classrooms and shops are overcrowded, systems are outdated, and the building does not comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
A team made up of Northeast officials, School Committee members from all 12 communities that Northeast serves, and construction experts, has spent more than four years developing a plan for a new building. This team has worked in partnership with officials in sending communities, listening to suggestions and concerns, to develop a building plan that is cost-effective and fiscally responsible.
The project is estimated to cost $317.4 million. The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) awarded the District a grant of up to $140.8 million in August 2021, the most in its history to that point. The remaining cost would be shared by the sending communities through the issuance of a 30-year construction bond, starting in Fiscal Year 2026.
The new school will feature 21st-century learning environments, improved Individualized Education Program (IEP) accommodations, state-of-the-art shop space, expanded program offerings, a new primary access roadway from Farm Street to reduce traffic congestion, a full-size gym, a 750-seat auditorium, outdoor space for learning, and a new cafeteria. The compact, four-story design will feature a double-height library rotunda.
With a focus on sustainability, the project is targeting LEED Silver+ certification with energy-efficient mechanical systems, provisions for solar panels, and vegetated roofs.
The grant offer includes a deadline to accept or decline. If voters do not approve the referendum, the District would have to start the multi-year MSBA process from the beginning, delaying construction by several years and increasing costs to taxpayers.
“Northeast Metro Tech’s goal is to help every student reach their full potential and to find employment in high-paying, high-demand jobs upon graduation,” Superintendent DiBarri said. “All of the work that has gone into developing this proposed project and presenting it to our communities for approval has been done with those core goals in mind.”
Voters will be asked whether they support the school plan at a special referendum on Jan. 25. Polls will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for Melrose residents at the Middle School Gym Complex, 90 Melrose St.
Voters with questions about polling locations are asked to contact their city or town clerk.