On March 7, the Mayor announced the formation of the new School Building committee (SBC), tasked with overseeing the project address the school building needs of the Winter Hill Community Innovation School (WHCIS) and Benjamin G. Brown School communities. The announcement also contained the news of second body that will be formed shortly: the Somerville School Construction Advisory Group. This group will advise on the key decision on the site of the new school building. Furthermore, the release went on to further surprise with the news that it will be the Mayor -- not the School Building Committee -- who makes the ultimate decision on this site.

MSBA Building Process Timeline with Advisory Group Timeline

It's indicative of the lack of trust between the WHCIS community and the City that this announcement of the advisory group met with significant unease in the school community. I received a fair number of emails and calls expressing alarm about any additional delay to the already lengthy, drawn-out process of constructing a new school building, and there were similar notes on social media. So there is clearly work to be done as far as the WHCIS community's confidence in the City. 

The March 18 memo from Infrastructure and Asset Management and Capital Projects directors was a step in the right direction. As were the assurances by the Mayor at the March 18 School Committee meeting that a) the WHCIS community would be reunited at the Edgerly in the fall; and b) that the advisory group's work would not delay the new school building project at all. The former promise already has been put in writing, and the Mayor offered that night to do the same for the latter promise.

Looking at the MSBA's Building Process timeline, the Feasibility Study period where the decision on siting for the new school building will be made is due to run through Summer 2026. As part of that module, the Preliminary Design Program (PDP) and Preferred Schematic Report (PSR) are where that choice will be made, and this is definitely is more than 18 months away. So that 18-month figure listed in the press release shouldn't pose any sort of delay to the project.

I'll commend the Mayor for assuming the decision-making role on the site of this new school building. This question of where this new school will be built is a highly contentious one. So by taking this responsibility away from the School Building Committee, the Mayor is allowing the School Building Committee to focus on the other aspects of their role. And while the School Construction Advisory Group might feel like yet an additional layer of bureaucracy, it does give the community formal input on the siting decision.

If you are interested in serving on the Somerville School Building Committee, the Administration currently is seeking applicants.

Jake Wilson


Somerville City Councilor-At-Large (he/him/él)