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Frequently Asked Questions

  • General Project Information
    What is the project timeline?

    1. Phase 1 New Building West Construction: April 2018 to August 2019
    2. Phase 2 New Building East Construction: June 2019 to August 2020
    3. Phase 3 Demolition & Site Improvements: June 2020 to May 2021

    How can I stay informed about the construction timeline and impacts?

    The City maintains a biweekly email update group for residents and businesses. To sign up, email JRossetti@somervillema.gov. Parents and guardians of current Somerville High School students and rising freshmen will receive regular project updates via email and/or voicemail from the District.

    Will demolition be scheduled during school breaks? Will any occur during school time?

    The majority of the demolition of the current building will take place over the summer break to be least disruptive to the learning environment. However, demolition and construction of the unoccupied "C" wing will begin in April/May 2018 after students have been relocated to modular classrooms. Demolition of the "C" wing is on the project schedule's primary critical path and cannot wait until school break without both cost and time impact to the Phase 1 substantial completion milestone deadline.

    Who are the contractors for this project?

    1. The Construction Manager is Suffolk Construction [Boston, MA].
    2. The Owner's Project Manager is PMA Consultants [Braintree, MA].
    3. The project Architect is SMMA [Cambridge, MA].
    4. The above firms employ dozens of subcontractors and sub-consultants.

    Are there diversity hiring goals/requirements for this project?

    The Somerville High School building project is a project of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) and as such is subject to MSBA requirements that: “All construction contracts shall be in conformity with applicable laws and regulations related to minority hiring. Every Authority-assisted contract for a project including sub-contracts shall include the Commonwealth's Supplemental Equal Employment Opportunity/AntiDiscrimination and Affirmative Action Program as part of the contract.” Information on the EEO/AAAP is located here: https://www.mass.gov/service-details/learn-about-equal-employment-opportunityaffirmative-action-programs.

    Additionally, per Mass. General Law, the contract with Suffolk Construction, the project manager, sets the following goals for hiring MBE and WBE businesses (Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises) as subcontractors for the project. As of Spring 2019, the Design Participation goals for MBE and WBE businesses have been exceeded and the project is on track to meet or exceed the Construction Participation goals (contracts are still being awarded as construction is ongoing):

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    How can I apply for a job with this project?

    Applicants seeking employment on this or other area projects managed by Suffolk Construction can apply at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5J58FXT
    or call Suffolk directly at 617-652-9220 and ask to speak with any of their Compliance Officers. If anyone needs assistance, especially a Somerville resident, they are happy to assist.

    Applicants seeking administrative/managerial positions can find information at https://www.suffolk.com/careers.

    Suffolk Construction is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy or maternity, national origin, citizenship, genetic information, disability, protected veteran, gender identity, age, or any other status protected by law.

    How many non-school or City staff will be on site daily?

    Varies depending on phase of construction, but manpower is expected to exceed 200 CORI checked construction workers during peak construction periods.

    What are the hours of construction?

    The Contractor is allowed to work on site between 7:00AM and 7:00PM Monday-Friday, and between 9:00AM and 7:00PM on Saturdays. Work on Sunday and Legal Holidays is prohibited. Any deviation from this plan requires a request made by the contractor 72 hours in advance of the work being performed and the approval of the DPW Commissioner.

    How long will the project take?

    The entire project is expected to take 37 months (April 2018 - May 2021).

    How will this project be impacted by GLX construction for Gilman Square?
    The high school project team is coordinating closely with the GLX construction team. During Phase 1, high school construction access will occur primarily via the access road immediately adjacent to the Medford Street bridge. During Phase 2 construction, it is anticipated that construction access will shift east to accommodate GLX work.

  • Parking & Traffic Flow
    Where will construction workers park?

    Construction workers are not permitted to park within the vicinity of Somerville High School unless they are within the fenced off construction project limit. The project's construction manager will secure offsite parking and workers will be required to carpool/shuttle to the site.

    I am a resident of the area. What is the modified parking plan?

    The City is convening a Central Hill Parking task force and conducting community meetings to discuss changes to Central Hill parking and the shift of employee parking from designated lots on the campus to nearby streets. Learn more and share comments at http://go.somervillema.gov/highschool/parking.html.

    I am a teacher or school employee. Where should I park during construction?

    The City is convening a Central Hill Parking task force and conducting community meetings to discuss changes to Central Hill parking and the shift of employee parking from designated lots on the campus to nearby streets. Learn more and share comments at http://go.somervillema.gov/highschool/parking.html.

    I am a parent of an SHS student. Where can I drop off and pick up my child during construction?

    Once construction begins, parking and driving on the SHS and City Hall concourse will change. Vehicles will not be allowed to access the concourse beyond where the flag poles are currently located, just beyond the first turn. Vehicles will be directed counterclockwise around the turn (in its final condition, there will be a circular driveway here), and back out to Highland Ave. from the same entrance. While you may utilize this area to drop off and pick up, we strongly suggest that you use points on School Street and/or Highland Avenue as access points, or that you drop off/pick up your student in front of the high school Atrium. There will be reserved "drop off/pick up spots on Highland Ave. for the duration of construction.

    Where should I park during after school and evening events?

    On-street parking can be utilized for Somerville residents at all times. During larger events, such as a school concert or PTA meetings, staff will work with the Traffic and Parking Department to ensure visitors are able to utilize on street parking temporarily regardless of whether you are a resident. Spots will not be held, however the Resident Permit Parking program may be relaxed during brief periods of time in the area surrounding the school as necessary.

    Will there be accessible parking once the main concourse closes?

    Yes. Any handicapped parking spaces that are removed will be replaced in a nearby location. For example, spots that have already been eliminated from the main concourse have been relocated to the left side of the concourse/driveway, as well as onto School Street adjacent to City Hall.

    Will there be school bus access during construction?

    School bus access for athletic events and field trips has been relocated (temporarily) to the atrium driveway. This will change as the project progresses, and information will be made available as that changes.

    Are there any traffic impacts during construction?
    Traffic details will be employed as necessary to support large construction deliveries. Once onsite, vehicles will be contained within the construction fence and should not impact traffic on Highland Ave, School Street, or Medford Street.
  • Safety & Maintenance
    What is the plan for dust containment and air quality control, both internally and externally?

    1. INTERIOR: The contractor, Suffolk Construction, will develop and enforce procedures for preventing construction activities from creating unacceptable Indoor Air Quality within occupied areas. This includes use of dust protection, filters, containment, ventilation and negative air pressurization. Suffolk is required to monitor work practices and have systems in place for early detection of potential Indoor Air Quality issues. Suffolk is required to provide monthly monitoring of the building indoor air quality with additional monitoring required when construction operations generate higher levels of potential contaminants.
    2. EXTERIOR: On the exterior of the site, Suffolk is required to employ dust control measures, often accomplished by watering down work areas on a regular basis, and particularly prior to earthwork or demolition activities. Construction equipment utilized onsite is required to have full exhaust systems and exhaust scrubbers where applicable.

    What security and other protocols will be put in place regarding project personnel and their interaction with students?

    1. Any contract or subcontract employee must submit to and fully clear a CORI background check before they are allowed onto a job site, particularly where minors are present. All staff associated with this project, on all levels, have completed these background checks.
    2. Suffolk will establish and enforce rules as are appropriate to ensure the safety of the school programs and appropriate demeanor in the presence of the students, staff, parents and other visitors. Personnel must wear identification badges when on site. Workers are forbidden from intermingling with students or entering a school occupied area except with prior approval of the project owner (the City of Somerville).
    3. During construction, there will be limited direct interaction between construction staff and students and school employees. There will be City and contract managers on-site throughout the project, and SHS staff will closely monitor all activity on a daily basis.
    4. Any concerns, issues, or questions should be brought immediately to the attention of the SHS Headmaster.

    Who is responsible for maintaining the modular units, both internally and externally (for example, snow removal during the winter?)

    1. Once occupied, School/City staff will be responsible for maintenance within and around the modular units.

    Is there a security plan in place for students and staff using the modular units? Are there cameras either inside or outside of the units?

    There are no cameras inside of the modular units, nor are there any attached to the outside of the temporary units. There are cameras on the front of the main SHS entrance (current entrance) as well as at the entrance to City Hall, both of which can be viewed by public safety personnel in the event of an emergency. A security plan is in place for students and staff in the modular units.

    What is being done to ensure safety for pedestrians when the concourse configuration changes?

    1. Vehicle traffic from the west (City Hall) will be redirected back out via a counterclockwise turnaround; the existing Highland Ave. entrance will be widened in April 2018 and converted to a 2-lane entrance/exit drive. This driveway reconfiguration will provide safe passage for students to and from the modular classrooms.
    2. Construction vehicles and equipment will not be permitted beyond the limits of the construction fence.

    Are there risks of anything falling onto students or pedestrians?

    At no time will work be permitted above students or pedestrians. Crane picks will require a logistics plan submitted by the contractor and approved by the City's project team. At no point will materials be hoisted over students, pedestrians or occupied vehicles/buildings.

    Will there be rodent abatement measures during construction?

    The construction manager is responsible for rodent & pest control for the duration of construction. SHS parents and guardians will be notified of any additional abatement efforts, and information will be posted on the project website.
  • Impact to Learning & Programs
    Where will SHS summer school be held while the main building is under construction?

    Summer school will be held at Next Wave/Full Circle School, at the Edgerly Education Building at 8 Bonair St.

    What is the plan for students during MCAS and other testing? Will there be significant noise that could disrupt testing?

    During MCAS testing (in 2018) noise will be minimal as the actual demolition will not occur until June 2018. The construction team will be given the MCAS testing dates in advance and will agree to a "no noise" policy during testing hours. Similar protocols will be adapted for future school years.

    How many classrooms are in each modular unit?

    There are 20 modular units which include 17 large classrooms, 1 small classroom, bathrooms, storage space and utility closets.

    What is the setup of the modular classroom?

    1. See below for layout of two typical modular trailers/classrooms.

    Are the modular classrooms temperature controlled?

    Modular classrooms are fully temperature controlled (heat and air conditioning) via unit ventilators.

    Are the modular classrooms soundproof?

    1. Exterior walls are insulated with R-10 Foam board and R-19 Fiberglass insulation, which exceeds that of the existing building.
    2. Interior walls are insulated with R-13 Fiberglass insulation, which exceeds that of the existing building.
    3. Roof insulation consists of R-20.5 Foam and R-38 Fiberglass insulation, which exceeds that of the existing building.

    Are the modular classrooms accessible for everyone?

    Yes, modular classrooms are fully ADA/MAAB compliant.

    How long will the modular units be on site?

    The modular units will remain on site through June 2020, until the new building is complete and ready for student occupancy. Construction of the new building is anticipated to be complete during the summer of 2020. Students and staff will move into the modular units as of the week following April vacation 2018.

    Will after school activities be held in the modular units, or will after school activities be moved offsite?

    No after school activities are planned in the modular units at this time, however this may change as the project progresses. Team meetings (school and project staff) would take place prior to any after school use of the units. Any club, extra help, or other meetings with teachers will occur as scheduled in the teacher's classroom, including in the modular units if that is where the teacher's classroom is located.

    Will there be ongoing meetings and orientations for incoming students as construction progresses?

    Yes, during middle school visits and on Freshman Orientation nights in August. SHS staff will also have a dedicated time for parent meetings on scheduled PTA nights and other times as convenient for parents. An informational video, from the students' perspective, will be available on the main project website and will be updated as needed.

    What is the plan for sporting events during construction? Will there be any home games? If so, where will they be played?

    SHS staff is currently in the process of planning off-site practices and games while the gym is under construction, from April 2019 through January 2020.

    What is the plan for after school events and concerts during construction? Where will they be held?

    After school events will be fully planned ahead of time and communicated appropriately. Once the SHS Auditorium is no longer available due to construction work, events typically hosted in the Auditorium will be held off-site, similar to the period of time when the Auditorium was being renovated after damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy.

    What is the proposed impact on daily learning during active construction?

    1. The impact on daily learning during active construction will be mitigated to the maximum extent possible. The largest portion of the demolition of the current building will take place over the summer break to be least disruptive to the learning environment. Some selective demolition and construction of the unoccupied "C" wing will begin in April/May 2018 after students have been relocated to modular classrooms.
    2. Utilities serving the property are not allowed to be interrupted. When utility connections need to be modified (such as gas, electricity, or water service), temporary services must be provided and put in place to insure uninterrupted utility service to the school, unless otherwise approved by the City.
    3. Site work and work outside the building may be performed while school is in session if it does not interfere with or impede school activities, including but not limited to arrivals and departures of students and staff, and outdoor athletic and play activities. Before performing work in any area that is immediately outside an occupied area of the building, the contractor must notify the City and obtain written authorization.
    4. Any operations that would result in high levels of noise, vibration, odors or other disruption to the school must be coordinated to with school prior to the activity commencing.
    5. Any operation causing interruptions to the school activities will be stopped as required by the school.
    6. Prior to execution of the work, the contractor is required to submit a site utilization plan, weather protection and heating plan, dust containment plan, and traffic and hauling plan.

    Will there be noise control during construction hours?

    The contractor is required to develop and maintain a noise abatement program and enforce strict discipline over personnel to minimize noise. They must employ construction methods and equipment which reduce excess noise.
  • Project Background
    Why do we need a new High School?

    • The school’s accreditation could be at stake: At its most recent review by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), it was stated that progress toward renovation or construction was expected by the next meeting or the School’s accreditation will be in jeopardy. A high school that loses accreditation would impact students applying for college acceptance and possibly employment.

    • Building condition and structural issues: The building’s exterior is failing and the overall building and systems are in poor condition. Aging systems in the current building result in significantly higher maintenance and operating costs.

    • High energy consumption: Energy consumption in the existing building is exorbitant. The steam heating system is antiquated and inefficient resulting in inadequate ability to regulate classroom temperatures. The building lacks proper insulation in the walls and roof, windows are single pane and inadequate to keep heat in the building.

    Take a video tour of the current building

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    Interior photos of the current Somerville High School, which was built in 1895 and had its last major renovation in 1986

    How many students are currently enrolled at the High School, and is future growth being considered?

    Future growth is considered in the project. There are 1,237 students currently enrolled in grades 9-12 at the High School, and the new school may
    accommodate as many as 1,590 students. The projected enrollment is a result of a collaborative analysis conducted by the School District and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).

    How much will it cost?
    The project budget will be established upon completion of the Schematic Design phase of the project, currently anticipated for April 2017.

    Where will the new school be located?

    The new school will be located at the same location as the existing one. The preferred site for the High School was determined as part of the Feasibility Study phase of the project. Participation in the MSBA grant program for school building construction requires a thorough examination of potential site options.
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    Map showing all of the possible sites being considered as part of the Feasibility Study

    How is the High School project being funded?

    The project will be jointly funded by the MSBA and the City of Somerville. The City’s base reimbursement rate for this project has been established by the MSBA as 71.79%. Opportunities for additional incentive points will be explored throughout the Feasibility Study phase of the project. Examples of incentive points that are available through the MSBA funding process include: 2 percentage points for energy efficiency, 1 percentage point for use of CM at Risk procurement, up to 2 incentive points for preventative maintenance programs and up to 5 incentive points for re-use of an existing building. The maximum reimbursement rate available for any school district funded through the MSBA is 80%.

    What is the MSBA?

    The MSBA is a state government authority that partners with local communities to create affordable, sustainable and energy efficient public schools across Massachusetts. Created in 2004, the MSBA provides reimbursements to communities based on a pre-determined percentage of eligible school construction costs. The MSBA’s revenue stream consists of one penny from the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

    What is the anticipated schedule for the project?

    The project schedule is currently planned to be as follows:

    • Feasibility Study: Completed July 2016
    • Design & Documentation: July 2016 to March 2018
    • Construction: April 2018 to July 2021

    Who will the City be partnering with for this project?

    PMA Consultants has been selected by the City as the Owner’s Project Manager and Symmes Maini & McKee Associates
    has been selected as the Designer for the project. The members of the Somerville High School Building Committee are as follows:

    • Hon. Joseph A. Curtatone – Mayor of Somerville
    • Mary-Jo Rossetti – Alderman-At-Large, City of Somerville
    • Steve Roix – School Committee Representative, Ward 1
    • Adda Santos – History Teacher, Somerville High School
    • Ed Bean – Director of Finance Auditor, City of Somerville
    • John Oteri – Headmaster Somerville High School
    • Mary Skipper – Somerville Public Schools Superintendent
    • Max Nadeau – Class of 2018 Student, Somerville High School
    • Nelia Braga – Graphic Design & Visual Communications Instructor, Somerville High School
    • Robert King – Director of Capital Projects and Planning at City of Somerville
    • Stan Koty – DPW Commissioner, City of Somerville
    • Tom Bent – Owner, Bent Electrical
    • Tony Ciccariello – Former Headmaster, Somerville High School
    • Vince McKay – Somerville Public Schools Assistant Superintendent
    • Tony Pierantozzi – Building Committee Chairman / Former Somerville School Superintendent

    How can I get involved?
    You can get involved by attending a meeting of the Somerville High School Building Committee (SBC).

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