Somerville Is Getting Its $256 Million High School

It will be the most expensive high school in Massachusetts history.

The residents of Somerville voted overwhelmingly to fund an expensive new high school for the city. According to unofficial results from the City of Somerville on Wednesday morning, the school was approved by 72 percent of voters.

The future 1,590-student school is expected to cost approximately $256 million, making it the most expensive high school building project in Massachusetts history. Somerville will contribute $136 million to the project, with $130.3 million of that share to be raised by a debt exclusion.

The debt exclusion, or tax increase, will gradually raise property taxes over the next 11 years. In 2027, the tax increases will level off, but the payment period will continue until 2054. (For example, in 2027, the average single-family home could see a maximum of $294 per year added to its tax bill, according to estimates from the city. After that, taxes will gradually decrease.)

In addition to the Somerville’s portion of the bill, the state is set to vote on its contribution of $120 million in February. The Boston Globe notes the $256 million high school on Highland Avenue is well over the cost of Newton North High School, which currently holds the title of the state’s most expensive building project. Finished in 2010, the school cost $198.5 million.

The new school proposal would renovate 82,700 square feet of the existing building while demolishing the rest, according to Globe. The new, energy efficient building would measure almost 322,000 square feet.

Supporters of the new school, including Mayor Joseph Curtatone, have lamented the current high school’s subpar conditions. They say the building’s exterior is failing and its aging systems are in poor condition, which create high maintenance and operating costs. Recently, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges warned that progress toward renovation was needed or the school’s accreditation could be in jeopardy.

The Somerville High School Building Committee created a website to give an overview of the project. You can see it here.


Madeline Bilis Associate Editor at Boston Magazine @madelinebilis
mbilis@bostonmagazine.com