Wilmington High School was built in 1950. Over the past 60 years, the school has undergone 5 renovations. According to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, at only 158,500 square feet, the current Wilmington High School building is approximately 20% too small. Their standards dictate that the school should be at least 189,120 square feet.
Virtually every area of the building lacks the space to adequately educate our children. Classrooms are 15% too small, science labs are 30% too small, and the library/media center is nearly 20% too small. The auditorium is undersized by more than 30%, leaving it woefully ill-equipped for storage, rehearsals and performances.
Most departments simply do not have storage space and are forced to share limited space with other departments. The athletics department has to store items in a hallway, and elements of the gym such as the weight room and wrestling area are inefficient and outmoded.
Teachers lack adequate space for curriculum planning and many of the classrooms in the current building were not designed to be used as classrooms. The custodians’ office, the district’s special education offices, the school’s old library and teacher cafeteria have all had to be converted into classrooms. Print, electronic and auto shops have also been converted into classrooms. Many special education classrooms are shockingly substandard and they are dispersed throughout the building, making it difficult to create a cohesive team teaching environment for those children who need services.
A twenty-first century high school should include small group classrooms for project-based learning and a large lecture hall to familiarize students with that kind of setting in preparation for college. Our current building simply cannot accommodate these learning environments, leaving our children at a disadvantage in a competitive college and work marketplace.
Wilmington High School’s health services department is also deeply affected by a lack of space. The nurse’s office lacks privacy, making it difficult for the school nurse to properly administer necessary care while maintaining students’ right to confidentiality. The school psychologist’s office is headquartered in a former book closet. The guidance office is storing permanent records in an old bathroom.
The truth is that space at the high school is extremely limited and classroom space is inadequate because the building is far too small and outdated. When it was designed and built, the population of the town was substantially smaller than it is today and the technology used in schools was far less advanced.
The limitations of the current Wilmington High School are severe enough to inspire the Massachusetts School Building Authority to guarantee that it will fund more than 50% of the reimbursable costs of a new Wilmington High School.
This building project is not about “enriching Wall Street bankers,” as some have suggested. This project is about enhancing the educational experience of Wilmington’s children and preparing them to be competitive in college and in the work force. Our children deserve a twenty-first century education. The only way to provide them with that is to build a new high school that has adequate space and that can accommodate current technology for them.
It’s time to end the conspiracy theories, rhetoric and sideshows. Wilmington knows what it needs to do on December 6 and December 10. Vote YES for a NEW Wilmington High School.