HANOVER – The South Shore Tech Regional School Committee, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, was updated on the Capital Subcommittee’s work.
Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey said the subcommittee, along with its architect and engineering firm, had reviewed feedback and ideas about a potential new construction project on campus, intending to bring back some revised ideas to the subcommittee by the end of November.
The proposal is for a 9,000-square-foot structure to be placed at the front of the school in a grassy area between the two entrances, potentially allowing space for up to two programs.
Hickey explained that the strategy is, by opening up some space, the school can relocate one shop while renovating some of the shop spaces in the 1962 wing of the building. Shops such as automotive, HVAC and electrical would then have more space to meet demand.
That doesn’t mean more students would be admitted – at least not in the short-run – Hickey said.
“But only 9,000 square feet might allow for a small increase,” he said. “I almost don’t want to promise that, but my theory is if we’re able to open up more space in higher-demand programs, then through the exploratory program … we might be able to take more kids, who we’ve already accepted, to major in those programs.”
More “mundane” concerns such as the size of the school’s cafeteria and science labs are more likely to hinder any effort to accept new students right now, according to Hickey. If shop space renovation and expansion helps free up some space for science labs, he suggested that the 2023-24 school year might be the year they could see some success there, but it really needs to be part of a broader renovation project.
SST is really looking to the MSBA to open up more of the $100 million that the Legislature is discussing focusing on vocational schools.
“If we can tap into additional funds, then we can talk about the additional renovation that we all want,” he said.
In the meantime, the subcommittee is planning what it can do now.
“My hope would be that we would bring the scope of the idea to the full committee by our December School Committee meeting,” Hickey said.
All eight member communities had passed debt authorization approval at town meetings this spring, Hickey reminded the committee, a portion of which is intended to fund opportunities to renovate and/or expand shops. The disrict is still waiting on MSBA, as it has been on various projects for several years. Some interest-only borrowing would be done for the first few years.
“We went to our communities and said we need to make some adjustments, we have programs that need more space,” he said. “The communities responded, which is fantastic, so we’re taking the next step as quickly as possible.”
The project manager and engineer would work on revising the scope of planned projects. Subcommittee members have offered feedback on points and construction materials and Hickey said he would be meeting with Hanover officials about septic capacity.
The district plans to go out to bid on the building and shop renovation with an eye toward having two projects going on this summer – the shell of the new building and roof repairs to the 1992 wing of the school. It would also allow all construction planned for next school year to be to work on the interior of the new building, possibly with students working on it, with renovation of the shops planned for summer 2023.
“The beauty of the model that we see is that it would have no impact on the kids in the building,” Hickey said.