The plan to build new Watertown High School passed the last major hurdle when the state approved the project on Wednesday.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority voted to approve the project on March 2. The new school will be built on the same location as the current school, and architects projected the cost at $201 million at the Dec. 15, 2021 School Building Committee meeting. The project will be partially funded by the state, with the City of Watertown paying for the rest out of the City’s operating budget, and a temporary tax increase will not be required.
The MSBA Board approved a grant of $44.2 million to assist with the construction of the new school, said Watertown Superintendent Dede Galdston in an announcement.
“We are beyond grateful for the opportunity that the MSBA is providing for the children in Watertown for many generations to come,” Galdston said. “In partnership with the MSBA, we will provide a learning environment that not only is fiscally responsible and educationally appropriate, but also is a model for energy efficiency, responsible global citizenship, and climate stewardship that will influence and inspire our children’s lives well into their future.
“Watertown’s commitment to high-quality education for our students in PreK through post-12 will prepare them for a future that we can’t even imagine. Thank you, Watertown and the MSBA!”
With the approval to go ahead with the project, the detailed designs of the new school will begin. Construction is scheduled to begin in June 2023 and be completed by the start of school in the fall of 2026.
Plans also include the swing space for the school, a temporary campus made up of modular classrooms to be constructed on Moxley Field. Students will also have use of some of the facilities at nearby Watertown Middle School.
Details of the New WHS
The school will have solar panels and designers have discussed having siding made with photovoltaic material to make the school net zero energy (producing as much electricity as the building uses).
The new WHS will have three stories above a below-grade garage on the Columbia Street side of the building, while the side facing Common Street and the Common Street Cemetery will include the cafeteria, kitchen, video production and wood shop. The garage will have 131 spaces (including five handicap ones), and cars will enter and exit onto a driveway leading to the corner of Barnard Avenue and Broadway.
The new school will include the current academic programs, as well as space for the new Chapter 74 career and technology education programs. WHS currently has engineering technology and have been approved for medical assisting. The school will add other programs, including an early childhood education program which will run a pre-school program on the first floor (along with engineering technology).
The first floor will also include classrooms, physics science labs, the gymnasium (with locker rooms), the auditorium, band and choral rooms, and the school administration offices.
The guidance offices, special education offices, business application and the medical assisting programs will be on the second floor. The media center (including the library), an art classroom, the walking track above the gym, a weight room and another physical education room will also be located on that floor, along with classrooms and biology science labs.
The third floor will be half the size of the two below it. It will include a second level of the media center, the fab lab, several classrooms, and science labs for biology and chemistry.
Watertown school officials sent out he following announcement:
The Board of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) voted on March 2, 2022 to approve the Watertown High School Project to replace the existing Watertown High School with a new facility serving grades 9-12 on the existing site.
This is an important and exciting milestone, and one that marks the transition into the Construction Phase of the Project.
Thank you to the School Building Committee, Compass, and Ai3 for your hard work!
The next steps are to develop the new Watertown High School to its full design in 2022 and preparing for the start of construction in June of 2023.