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State, local officials break ground for new Minuteman High

Planning for $144.9m Lincoln facility began in 2008

Almost a decade in the planning, construction of a new Minuteman High School got underway Wednesday, June 14.

The new school is designed for 628 students, who will spend their Minuteman "careers" in one of two career academies -- for life sciences and engineering. The new school will include 16 career- and technical-education programs, including two new ones: Advanced Manufacturing and Multi-Media Engineering (Technical Theatre).

State and local officials joined hundreds of Minuteman faculty, staff and students for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the construction of a new $144.9 million high school. The 45-minute event took place on the school's football field, on district-owned property in Lincoln, a few hundred yards away from the existing school in Lexington.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) is investing more than $44 million in the project.

"An investment in education pays the best interest," said MSBA Executive Director Jack McCarthy, in a news release. He was paraphrasing the words of Benjamin Franklin.

McCarthy noted that the Minuteman project has been in the MSBA planning process longer than almost any other project in the state, spanning the tenure of several state treasurers.

Speaking on behalf of Minuteman's State House delegation, Rep. Jay Kaufman, Democrat of Lexington, applauded the project and noted Minuteman's importance to students and to the region's economy.

He also remembered the late Sen. Kenneth Donnelly, Democrat of Arlington, as a leader in support of vocational-technical education and Minuteman High.

To secure project approval, the district needed to revise its governance structure and membership, scale back student enrollment and change state regulations so nonmembers contribute to capital costs. The district was also forced to hold a districtwide election to secure final approval for bonding.

"This project nearly failed several times," said School Committee Chair Jeffrey Stulin of Needham. Speaking directly to Minuteman students, Stulin urged them to take on important projects, be persistent, put their passion into it, and have the courage to accept that they might fail.

For Minuteman Superintendent Dr. Edward Bouquillon, the groundbreaking ceremony has been a long time coming. He said he first realized that the existing building needed significant repair or replacement soon after he accepted the job as superintendent in 2007. In November 2008, he filed a Statement of Interest with the MSBA. The new building will open in the fall of 2019.

In remarks at the groundbreaking, Bouquillon urged state officials not to tinker with the existing model for career vocational-technical education. "Now is not the time to shave off the best aspects of CVTE and try to graft it onto a traditional high school schedule," he said. "All that will do is weaken our system in Massachusetts."

He also urged the state Legislature to increase funding for similar projects. "MSBA needs another penny of the sales tax to get all the vocational technical schools rebuilt and to build new ones to fill the skills gap," Bouquillon said. Currently, MSBA is funded by one penny of the state's 6.25-percent sales tax.

Following the remarks, Bouquillon received a standing ovation.

Guests at the groundbreaking included a host of town managers and selectmen from area towns; education officials, including vocational school superintendents; officials from the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA) and the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS); members of Minuteman’s business-led program advisory committees; and a representative from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

Several students flanked the podium, wearing uniforms representing two student organizations, FFA and SkillsUSA.

Ford Spalding, chair of the Minuteman School Building Committee and a member of the Minuteman School Committee, served as master of ceremonies.

Through the governor's Workforce Skills Cabinet, the Baker administration has approved two competitive grants totaling $995,000 to help Minuteman purchase equipment to start-up the new Advanced Manufacturing program.

Gilbane Building Co. is the construction manager for the project and Kaestle Boos Associates is the Architect. Skanska USA Building serves as Minuteman's project manager.

Beginning in July, the Minuteman district will include 10 member towns, down from 16: Acton, Arlington, Belmont, Bolton, Concord, Dover, Lancaster, Lexington, Needham and Stow. 

This news announcement was published Wednesday, June 14, 2017.



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