The School Committee has been discussing ways to approach the needed repairs at Holliston High School (HHS) proposed by superintendent Dr. Brad Jackson and held a public forum on January 15 to ask the opinions of the town’s people.
Many local schools are rebuilding or renovating, raising questions about HHS’ original design from 1965 which still holds today, and is currently in need of $10,000,000 worth of repairs.
“He [Dr. Jackson] did not suggest a proposed solution of either re-building or renovating the high school rather his recommendation to the Committee/community is to partner with the MA School Building Authority,” said school committee chair Ms. Stacey Raffi in an email interview.
Dr. Jackson has only proposed the idea to reach out to the MSBA, but there is no specific plan in place. Options are just being considered and discussed; there is no construction planned in the very near future.
“I would estimate the actual process would not start for around four to eight years,” said Dr. Jackson. “There are about 100 schools to submit a statement of interest (SOI) a year, and only 10 are selected from the state to even just start talking about the options,” added Dr. Jackson.
Dr. Jackson explained that once the state agrees to a route (renovation, cosmetic renovation, or rebuilding) to go about fixing what is needed, the town will then vote yes or no on the idea.
Although the re-model in 2000 led to many changes and basic repairs to the original school such as, adding the fieldhouse, common planning areas for faculty, and the superintendent’s office as well as fixing roofing and heating, many basic repairs are needed in the 54 year old building.
“The septic is from the original building, heating and roofing need an update, even the auditorium chairs are from the original model,” said Dr. Jackson.
There are also other things in need of an update aside from what Dr. Jackson explained.
“The school’s glass windows are from the original building; they were not updated in the 2000 renovation so they are 50 years old,” said Mr. Chris Murphy.
Not only are repairs needed but the overall atmosphere in the building is outdated for classrooms.
Dr. Jackson believes some things need to be updated to fit 21st century learning expectations, and he would like to see classrooms better fit for today’s technology.
“The set up of this building was designed for education 50 years ago, when teachers used to only lecture while students wrote down what they said word for word,” said Dr. Jackson. “These days our learning has expanded technologically, and the classroom layout has to match that,” he added.
He went on to explain his visions for future classrooms in HHS.
“Classrooms should have lots and lots of natural light (unlike our science labs that have absolutely NO outside lighting),” said Dr. Jackson in a follow up email. “Furniture plays a crucial role as well, with the days of fixed desks long gone. Movable tables and chairs are important in making sure that a learning space remains flexible,” he added.
Many schools in the metrowest area have recently modernized their buildings to adjust to the 21st century learning expectations.
“When I travel to other schools for basketball games I constantly notice very modern gyms and classrooms,” said sophomore Spencer Mirken.
Though students attending HHS at this time will be graduated before any possible construction, questions still arise about the education of students attending HHS during possible construction time.
“I don’t know how they do that. I can’t imagine it would be easy to focus with construction going on,” said Mirken.
The renovation in 2000 was very chaotic for the students and faculty in the classroom, and many fear the stress of going through it again.
“We had three grades crammed into one side of the building, while they renovated it, then we switched to the new side while they renovated the old side,” said Mr. Murphy, adding “freshman classes took place at the old Flagg School.”
The state has to weigh the options and what needs to be repaired. It then has to decide if it is worthwhile building a new school or if keeping the original layout and only spending the money for the specific repairs.
“If the choice were up to me, I would rebuild the school” said Mr. Murphy.