PHOTO CAPTION: Left to right - Blue Hills Superintendent-Director James P. Quaglia, Chair of the School Building Committee; Blue Hills Regional District School Committee Chair Marybeth Nearen of Randolph; Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Executive Director Jack McCarthy; State Treasurer and MSBA Chair Deborah B. Goldberg; Rep. William C. Galvin; Rep. Mark J. Cusack; and Senator Walter F. Timilty. Photo by Judy Bass.
By Judy Bass
A momentous event featuring remarks from school administrators and state officials as well as a groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of a major $84.8 million renovation project at Blue Hills Regional Technical School in Canton on June 25.
The project, which is expected to conclude in September 2019, will include numerous significant upgrades to infrastructure such as improved Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, life safety systems, new HVAC and plumbing, new electrical systems, new windows and entries, an improved roof, and new locker rooms and lockers.
Serving as the master of ceremonies and introductory speaker was Blue Hills Regional Supt.-Director James P. Quaglia, who is also Chair of the School Building Committee, which has overseen this whole endeavor since its inception. He continues to play a key role in moving the project forward.
Among the guests, some of whom delivered remarks lauding Blue Hills Regional and citing the importance of vocational technical education were State Treasurer and Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Chair Deborah B. Goldberg; MSBA Executive Director Jack McCarthy; State Senator Walter F. Timilty; State Rep. William C. Galvin; State Rep. Mark J. Cusack; Ms. Jen Barsamian representing State Rep. Paul McMurtry; Blue Hills Regional District School Committee Chair Marybeth Nearen of Randolph; Blue Hills District School Committee member from Norwood and member of the School Building Committee Kevin L. Connolly; Secretary of the Blue Hills Regional District School Committee and member of the School Building Committee Eric C. Erskine of Braintree; Blue Hills Regional Director of Facilities / Information Technology and member of the School Building Committee Gene Mastro; Westwood Board of Selectmen Chairman Michael F. Walsh and Westwood Board of Selectmen member Nancy C. Hyde; and representatives from the three companies involved in this project – Owner’s Project Manager Dore & Whittier Project Management & Architecture of Newburyport, the architectural firm Drummey Rosane Anderson (DRA), Inc., of Waltham, and the construction management firm Consigli, which has several locations including Boston and Milford.
In her remarks, Treasurer Goldberg mentioned the true focus of this project. “It’s about kids and teachers,” she said, adding that vocational technical schools like Blue Hills Regional are a pivotal factor in the vibrancy of the economy. “This is such a critical project,” she noted, one which will ultimately provide the school with 21st-century, technologically-advanced classrooms along with much-needed collaborative working spaces.
Harkening back to the school’s 50th anniversary in 2016, District School Committee Chair Nearen said, “We want to continue the Blue Hills tradition of providing students with the best career and technical education possible for another fifty years and another fifty after that. To do so, however, we need to have a facility that is state-of-the-art in every way. This school renovation project will ensure that we have such a facility for generations to come.”
Over half the cost – 55.89% - will be reimbursed by the MSBA, a government agency that, according to its web site, makes “reimbursements to cities, towns and regional school districts for school construction projects.
As mid-November 2017, all of the school’s nine District towns – Avon, Braintree, Canton, Dedham, Holbrook, Milton, Norwood, Randolph and Westwood – officially green-lighted the project by giving their approval to Blue Hills Regional to borrow the necessary funds.
All of the planned renovations at the school are demonstrably required to provide a safe, smoothly-functioning, modern educational environment.
Supt. Quaglia has emphasized the urgent necessity of making these improvements. “This is all about ‘need-to-haves’ and not ‘nice-to haves,’” he said in an interview last fall.
Construction performed during the school year will take place on the second and third shifts, with educational spaces returned to “close to normal” during the day. Work on vocational areas, locker rooms, offices and athletic spaces will be done during the summer.