In December, Walpole High School was notified that they did not receive the grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), which would have allowed Walpole to build a new high school.
“I believe they invited 15 schools into the program and about 85 applied,” Principal Stephen Imbusch said. “I think the number depends on the overall cost of the projects, as they only have a certain dollar amount to play with.”
The association works by using tax money for their building projects, taking one penny of the state’s 6.25% sales tax. Throughout their 11-year existence, the program has made more than $12.4 billion for school districts.
Schools in Massachusetts begin by submitting a Statement of Interest (SOI) to the program, detailing what their plan is in regards to the use of the grant. The Board of Directors then meets and determines the district best suited for the grant. Once a school is accepted into the program, a 9-month process begins where the school works with the program discussing the new school with designers and architects.
The goal of the MSBA is represented in their mission statement: to “partner with Massachusetts communities to support the design and construction of educationally-appropriate, flexible, sustainable, and cost-effective public school facilities.”
“This town has already committed to spending a million to $1.5 million on a new school,” Imbusch said. “If they don’t bring us into the program, the town might decide to do the old plan, which is to build a new middle school and add onto the high school.”
In spite of the rejection from the association this year, Imbusch still plans on applying again next year.
“The MSBA have already told us that most schools have to re-apply a number of times before being accepted into the program,” Imbusch said. “We have to add on here, and if you look to the projected numbers for 2022 [class size] is going up by about 50 students.”
In the coming years, Walpole High hopes to gain support from the MSBA and from the town of Walpole in their efforts to expand or rebuild the high school.
“Here’s the thing: we are kind of stuck for space.The MSBA have already told us that most schools have to re-apply a number of times before being accepted into the program,” Imbusch said. “So the question is, do we do an addition, or do we continue applying for the program?”