Will Somerville voters approve the most expensive school in state history?


The Boston Globe | By John Laidler
October 27, 2016

somervile-highSomerville voters will decide whether to fund the highest-priced school building project in state history when they cast their ballots in the Nov. 8 election.

As planned, the new Somerville High School will cost an estimated $257 million, with the city picking up $137 million of the cost, $130.3 million of it absorbed by taxpayers through the debt exclusion proposed on the ballot. The tax increase would last for the length of time it takes to pay off the debt. The city has projected the tax increase will be in effect from 2018 to 2054.

The added taxes for an average single-family home would rise gradually to a maximum of $294 annually in fiscal 2027. Starting around 2047, the amount would gradually fall to zero in fiscal 2054.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority board is scheduled to vote in February on approving the agency’s estimated $120 million share of the project.

The project’s estimated price tag would top the $198.5 million spent to build the Newton North High School, completed in 2010 and currently the state’s most expensive school building project.

“The Somerville education system has been booming,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, a strong supporter of the project, citing steady progress in the district’s test scores. But he said the high school building’s many deficiencies “are an impediment to our future ability to innovate in our educational system and to enable the collaborative creativity of all our future students.”

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