$100m bet for high schools in seven Boston suburbs

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, August 25, 2014

Parents, educators, and taxpayers throughout Boston’s suburbs are betting that $100 million will help their children enter a competitive college or succeed in today’s cutthroat job market.

That’s about the average cost of the seven new or renovated high schools opening in the suburbs at the start of the academic year in late August and early September. They are replacing aging structures dating from the 1970s or earlier that were at the end of their useful lives.

“We’re really cleaning up a lot of the old schools,” said Jack McCarthy, executive director of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, or MSBA, which provided more than $380 million — around 60 percent of the total cost — for high school construction in Danvers, Dracut, Duxbury, Franklin, Marshfield, Methuen, and Walpole.

The funding bought new buildings that reflect modern design principles and include technology that school officials said would not only boost students’ learning but also maintain security at a time of increased anxiety over school violence. Many of the new high schools will have at least 200 video surveillance cameras, for example, superintendents said.

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