Worcester’s South High Community School Will Be Big

WORCESTER, Mass. – Go big or go home seems to be the edict guiding the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), which is exploring a project that will likely become the most expensive building project the school system has ever embarked upon.

The prospective $215 million redux of the South High Community School will be a 360,000-square-foot juggernaut that will subsume the existing 246,000-square-foot school. The cost is higher than the preliminary projections arrived at in a feasibility study, according to local news service The Telegram.

A schematic was designed by the locally based architecture and project management firm of Lamoureux Pagano Associates, which has designed eight other K-12 facilities. Their design has four levels and is comprised of a main structure with a gym, auditorium, cafeteria and a media center. Separate branching wings will house the school’s various grades. Vocational programs are also showcased in the design with spaces allotted for culinary arts and automotive tech training. Other design features include a football field, rain garden, a solar canopied parking lot and a raised crosswalk.

Likewise, there will also be a daycare center, an on-campus gym, a food pantry and health center, which will all be made available to the surrounding community as well as students.

According to city and school officials, the latest price estimate for the work could come down further before construction begins. As it stands, South High Community School will be the most expensive building project upon which the school system has embarked to date.

The goal is to begin construction on the school early next year to eventually accommodate a swelling student body that is expected to increase the school’s population by 300 students (according to the U.S. News and World Report) to 1,700 when the new school is scheduled to open in 2021.

Additional approvals need to be secured from MSBA by the Worcester School District before the project can proceed. If approved, the district is eligible to receive reimbursements for up to 80 percent of the school’s cost from the authority.