Voters Approve Winchester High School Renovation

On Tuesday, voters in Winchester overwhelmingly approved a debt exclusion to pay for a $130 million overhaul of Winchester High School designed by SMMA. The measure passed by 68%, with 5900 yes votes and 2402 no votes. Fifty-one percent of registered voters cast ballots in the election. The Massachusetts School Building Authority will cover $44.5 million of the cost, leaving $85.5 million to the Winchester taxpayers. The funds will be raised through increased property taxes.

The existing Winchester High School, built in 1970, poses numerous challenges to the architecture team and the school leadership. It was built within the Aberjona River flood plain and on top of the former town dump, and in the past four decades the land surrounding the building has settled considerably, as much as three feet in places. Nonetheless the existing reinforced concrete structure is solid, needing only to be retrofitted to adhere to new seismic code changes. The decision was made to do a “gut rehab” of the existing building, leaving only the reinforced concrete structure within the academic wings, while other portions of the building will receive more modest renovations.