After a lengthy and inclusive process, we presented to the Board of Aldermen on October 5 a proposal to move forward on a plan to address student population increases in the City of Melrose and the need for more classroom space in our schools. The Committee on Appropriations recommended passage, and the Aldermen voted to approve the funding on October 17.
Population increases are extremely hard to predict and track. The City, in cooperation with the schools, has made many modifications to the current school structures, including building new classrooms, renovations, etc. We have now reached a point, due to a dramatic increase in the school age population in the last two years, that it is time to act. We began this process well over a year ago with a demographic study, a presentation of several options by our Superintendent, a community meeting, a review by our permanent School Building Committee, a recommendation by our School Building Committee as well as a review and recommendation by the Melrose School Committee. What was clear was the community’s clear commitment to our current expanded neighborhood school model that continues the K through 5 elementary schools as well as the grades 6 to 8 middle school. The proposal approved by the School Building Committee and the School Committee, and endorsed by myself, includes the use of modular school additions as well as a renovation of the Horace Mann School that provides a long-term solution to the challenges we face.
The team that presented these recommendations to the Appropriations Committee is the same team that built the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School, renovated Melrose High School and the Hoover Elementary School, and has led all our school projects over the last 15 years. They are second to none in terms of their knowledge of this community and the high standards they keep. They are keenly aware of cost and quality and have an outstanding working relationship with our principals as well as our senior school administrators.
The plan that has been recommended is, I believe, the best plan for students and for administrators. It protects the clear desires of myself and others that fifth graders should remain in elementary schools, that eight graders should remain in middle school, and that Melrose High School should remain a 9th to 12th grade community. I would also argue that the plan provides additional school improvements such as ADA compliance, open space, and advancing educational equity in all our schools. I look forward to continued support from the Board of Aldermen as we advance our solution to this challenge for the City of Melrose.