No Space at Doherty? No Kidding

By Nick D’Andrea

The Worcester Telegram reported on Thursday that the Worcester Public Schools has determined that Doherty Memorial High School does not have the capacity to house the new proposed advanced academy.  Well, yeah!!!  I needed to check the calendar because I thought it was April 1st.  Nope, this could not surprise anyone at all.

While I was running for School Committee the question on the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Doherty came up.  Although I am a proponent of the IB program, I had reservations of Doherty being able to take that on.  I got my reservations by talking to teachers at the school, parents in the community and paying attention last winter when the discussions were taking place.

Here is  what was reported from the school committee meeting on December 18, 2014

  • Brian O’Connell said he’d had informal conversations with several people at Doherty who were concerned about space issues at the school.
    “And we all know Doherty struggles in terms of limitations in technology,” he said.
  • “Location, location, location is what I’m hearing from people,” Dianna L. Biancheria said.

Then from a School Committee meeting on February 26,2015

  • Deborah Steigman said the academy, estimated to cost $2 million annually by its fourth year, was an expensive investment for a relatively small number of students. She said her son is an honor student at Doherty, which she described as a building “falling apart.” Science labs are lacking and there are not enough books coming home because there are not enough to go around, she said
  • Doherty Assistant Principal Peter Bowler said that Doherty indeed faces space challenges…….

Those are just to quote a few that were widely reported.

So now, we are in a position of implementing a program that will cost $2 million dollars after four years, and now have to pay for space (reported 25,000 sq ft) to house this program, I’m guessing this estimate was not included in the original number.  That’s a minimum of $100,000 a month, $1.2 million dollars and we haven’t even opened the doors.

The ball got dropped here, and there was no reason for it.  Now we need to come up with a solution that will not riddle taxpayers for the next decade.  Tax rates are about to go up, I assume, if they ever vote on it.  I suggest we look at opening up one of the closed school buildings that remain empty and see if it is feasible to update, or maybe there is space at one of the new schools that were built (Worcester Tech or North).  Anything, lets start thinking outside the box.

This shouldn’t have surprised anyone and now we will pay for it.


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