The City Council’s Finance Committee voted unanimously to support Holyoke’s proposed middle school building project when they met on Wednesday, May 24. The full City Council is expected to take a final vote on the proposal when they meet on June 6. The Massachusetts School Building Authority is also expected to vote on the project later this month.
Over the past several years, the City of Holyoke, Holyoke Public Schools, and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) have been working together to try to build a new school for approximately 550 students in grades 6-8. The new building would replace the poorly designed, energy-inefficient William R. Peck Middle School that no longer meets the needs of a modern education.
The total proposed cost for the new building is $85,504,592. The Massachusetts School Building Authority is expected to give Holyoke a grant of $46 million, which means that the City of Holyoke would be responsible for the remaining $40 million of the projected costs. “It’s important to note that these estimates are conservative and through various factors, there could be a decent chance these costs are much less than anticipated,” Mayor Joshua Garcia has said. “The city can afford to pay for the school and still have enough debt capacity to take on other obligations as needed.”
If the new school is approved by both the City and the MSBA, demolition of the current building could begin this summer, construction could begin in February 2024, with the school ready to occupy by fall or winter 2025.
“We are grateful to everyone who has helped us along the way,” said Superintendent Anthony Soto. “We have come this far in the planning and development process through the hard work of many individuals,” he said, including members of the School Building Committee and the City Finance Committee as well as other city officials, the HPS School Committee and district leadership and staff, along with HPS families, students, and community residents.
“We are optimistic for successful votes when the full City Council and MSBA meet soon,” said Mayor Joshua A. Garcia. “This community wants to build a new middle school, and we plan to deliver.”