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Massachusetts Wants to Build $305M Bristol-Plymouth Technical High School

Wed December 22, 2021 - Northeast Edition
Brockton Enterprise

Once a project start is announced, building the new campus would take around eight years. (HMFH Architects rendering)
Once a project start is announced, building the new campus would take around eight years. (HMFH Architects rendering)

Massachusetts' Bristol-Plymouth Regional Vocational Technical district is looking to build a $305 million high school in Taunton that would replace an aging campus.

The Brockton Enterprise reported Dec. 20 that the existing school is described by district officials as outdated, undersized and unable to meet the educational needs of students.

The district is currently seeking approval from the Massachusetts Building Authority, which is expected to pay 40 percent of the construction cost. A project summary from the school district notes that the campus first opened in 1972 and has now reached the point where it has "exceeded its useful service life."

When the school welcomed its first students nearly 50 years ago, it focused on vocational training. Now, it offers a more diverse set of programs, from cosmetology to plumbing.

Crowding, however, has become an issue at the technical high school. It was originally built to accommodate about 700 students; enrollment has since grown to 1,300 students.

Officials with the Bristol-Plymouth regional schools also told the Enterprise that the facility lacks modern equipment, does not have enough science labs and special education classrooms, has several classrooms with no windows and must utilize vocational shops too small to support student needs.

With the help of HMFH Architects in Cambridge, the Bristol-Plymouth school district created an initial "new vision" for the technical high school in a Power Point presentation:

  • Create a "school hub" by centrally co-locating the library and cafeteria.
  • Build individual vocational clusters, including ones for public service, transportation, construction, manufacturing and engineering, communications and business, and health services.
  • Create a pride in branding for vocational programs.
  • Boost the physical connections between academic and vocational programs through opportunities for maker spaces and project areas.
  • Promote transparency between shops and corridors to inspire hands on learning in academic classes.
  • Design "right-size" labs and vocational shops.
  • Encourage community engagement with public facing programs and inviting site layout and facilities.
  • Provide natural light in all educational spaces.
  • Create small group and break out areas for academics and special education (SPED) programs.
  • Build a multi-purpose auditorium for large academic gatherings, distance learning and performing arts.
  • Provide an appropriately sized gymnasium to promote health and wellness, and to support after school activities

The assessment by HMFH Architects and Boston-based PMH Consultants added that code related upgrades and repairs alone will not provide new 21st century academic space for the technical high school as it is "severely overcrowded and lacks the technology and equipment needed for today's learning environments."

It also noted:

  • There are inadequate numbers of science labs and SPED classrooms.
  • Vocational shops and labs are severely undersized.
  • The school's site, although beautiful and spacious, has challenges which include confusing circulation patterns, poor wayfinding, security issues and flooding.

The project's consultants also told school officials the existing campus would have to undergo major repairs and installations, including new HVAC systems, a new roof, new windows, accessibility upgrades, and plumbing repairs. District leaders considered building some of the recommended additions and renovations, the Brockton news source reported, but that option proved to be too expensive.

Once a project start is announced, building the new campus would take around eight years, according to the newspaper.

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