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Brockton, Mass., Officials One Step Closer to Renovating or Building New High School

Wed July 03, 2024 - Northeast Edition
Brockton Enterprise & Brockton Public Schools

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Brockton High School in Massachusetts has moved one step closer to getting a massive building renovation.

At the Brockton Public Schools (BPS) meeting June 27, Mayor Robert Sullivan said that state education officials will conduct a feasibility study for a state-subsidized renovation project at the school.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) had earlier invited BPS to enter the feasibility study phase for either a future rehabilitation or replacement of the state's largest high school.

"That was a game changing vote," Sullivan said at the school committee meeting. "That's great for Brockton High, that's great for Brockton Public Schools."

The Brockton Enterprise reported that the high school was one of 10 schools selected for the MSBA's CORE grant program, which was established in 2004 to fund major construction projects for public schools in the state. After missing the invitation twice, Brockton High sent a letter of interest in 2020 that was finally accepted in December 2022.

"The feasibility study will carefully examine potential solutions to the issues identified at the school's facility and will help us develop the most cost-effective plan to address those issues," Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg said in a written statement.

If the next step in the process results in a determination that a renovation or replacement of Brockton High School is indeed feasible, the city would be eligible for reimbursement by Massachusetts in adherence with the funding formula outlined in Chapter 70B of state law, according to BPS.

The minimum reimbursement for a potential future project would be 31 percent but could be as high as 80 percent based on the factors laid out in the state funding formula.

A new Brockton High could cost $1 billion, meaning the city would pay roughly $100 million to $200 million for its share. Sullivan said state leaders have pledged that the $2.5 million for the feasibility study will be included in an 80 percent reimbursement, although cities typically pay that fee in full. The MSBA will contribute up to $800 million.

The huge project came under threat just this past February when members of the Brockton City Council considered denying BPS the money needed to secure the feasibility study. The council has been critical of the school district's spending since its $18 million budget deficit in 2023, the Enterprise noted.

"This is what we wanted," said Ward 7 Councilor Shirley Asack at the time, "but we're not in the right place to accept it."

Despite the school district's financial insecurity, though, the Brockton city councilors voted unanimously in March to approve the entire $2.5 million.

Building a Better Brockton High School

James Cobbs, acting superintendent of BPS, noted that at the recent MSBA's board of directors meeting, the state body outlined how the school district and MSBA would collaborate in exploring all options for creating a better Brockton High, which first opened in 1970 and will begin its 54th year of service in September.

Now, the city and MSBA will partner to identify a project manager and a design firm to document Brockton High's educational programming, evaluate existing space and conditions, and determine what the most cost-effective and practical approach would be to solve identified issues at the school.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to continue our partnership with the MSBA and explore the possibilities for the future of Brockton High School," Cobbs said in a statement. "This is a unique chance to do a thorough exploration of our current and future space needs and determine what path makes the most sense for our community."

Brockton High was earlier invited into MSBA's eligibility phase in 2022, which typically lasts two years, BPS noted on its website.

Any future proposed project would be subject to the remaining steps of the MSBA process, which includes schematic designs, project funding, detailed designs, construction and project completion.

Located about 25 mi. south of Boston, Brockton High is not only the most populous school in the state, but it is also among the largest in the country with an enrollment of approximately 3,600 students, according to BPS.

The MSBA was created 20 years ago this month by then-Gov. Mitt Romney has since given the green light to over 1,000 school building renovations across the state and awarded more than $17 million to fund these projects.

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