High School Construction Costs


As pointed out by a recent article on Lowell High School, construction costs are spiraling out of control.

Recently built and designed high schools in Massachusetts can be a guide to estimating what it may cost to build a high school:

Year School Enrollment New/Renovate Cost (million)
2019 (schematic) Arlington 1,290 New $205m
2019-? Belmont 2,215 New $295m
2019 (construction beginning) Attleboro 1,725 New $260m
2019 (schematic) Waltham 1,830 New $381m
2018-? Fall River 2,570 New $263m
2017 (in design process) Worcester – South 1,427 New $215m
2019 (in design process) Lowell 3,145 New $344m (2017 est)
2016 (approved) Somerville 1,590 Reconstruction $257m
2012 (opened) Wellesley 1,512 New $115m
2012 (opened) Wayland 828 New $71m
2012 (opened) Natick 1,664 New $78.5m
2010 (opened) Newton North 2,126 New $192-$198m

High School Debt Exclusions

Lexington

Lexington has submitted a statement of interest to the MSBA for a high school.  With capacity needs beyond 2,500 students, we estimate a complete project would cost about $400 million in total, with $300 million to be paid by local taxpayers. However, some town leaders are now discussing piecemeal replacement due to the local tax burden.

Past Debt Exclusions Votes on High School Construction

Reviewing elections from 2010 to 2018, we find no instances where high school construction debt exclusions failed at the polls.  Our observation is that ill-fated projects fail at the design and construction phase, or earlier in the process.  These are the results of these recent debt exclusions:

  • Abington, 2820-595, in favor of a new middle-high school, 10/18/2014
  • Ashby, 426-342, in favor of a new district high school, 8/28/2014
  • Attleboro, 5556-2905, in favor of a new high school, 4/3/2018
  • Belmont, 9574-2971, in favor of a new high school, 11/6/2018
  • Berkley, 421-185, in favor of a Somerset-Berkley regional high school, 12/17/2011
  • Berlin, 593-167, in favor of constructing a high school, 5/10/2010
  • Billerica: 6448-906, in favor of a new Billerica Memorial High School, 3/5/2016
  • Brookliine, 3690-2022, in favor of renovating and expanding Brookline High School, 5/8/2018
  • Carlisle: 965-184, in favor of a new Concord-Carlisle High School, 11/5/2011
  • Chatham: 1140-771, in favor of a new school Monomy Regional High School, 9/6/2012
  • Concord, 3572-659, in favor of a new Concord-Carlisle High School, 11/15/2011
  • Duxbury, 1932-1528, in favor of a colocated middle-high school, 11/5/2011
  • E.Bridgewater, 2547-416, in favor of a new high school, 2/12/2011
  • Franklin, 7988-1982, in favor of a new high school, 3/27/2012
  • Greenfield, 2392-557, in favor of a new high school, 5/1/2012
  • Hopkinton, 986-789, in favor a (new?) high school, 5/21/2012
  • Leominster, 1414-543, in favor of new Lunenberg Middle/High School, 1/11/2014
  • Marshfield, 4723-2034, in favor of a new high school, 11/19/2011
  • Maynard, 1764-410, in favor of a new high school, 11/30/2010
  • Middleborough, 2095-973, in favor of a new high school, 11/4/2017
  • North Reading, 3075-802, in favor of new high school and renovations, 3/24/2012
  • Pepperell, 1262-801, in favor of new regional high school, 4/28/2014
  • Saugus, 3481-1451, in favor of new middle/high school, 6/20/2017
  • Somerset, 1364-697, in favor of a new high school, 12/19/2011
  • Somerville, 26752-10374, in favor of a new high school, 11/8/2016
  • Townsend, 1050-716, in favor of a new high school, 4/28/2014
  • W. Bridgewater, 1177-553, in favor of a new middle-high school, 10/6/2012
  • Wilmington, 3778-1238, in favor of a new high school, 12/6/2011
  • Yarmouth, 1582-967, in favor of a new regional high school, 5/15/2018