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The Spectrum

The student news site of Dartmouth High School

The Spectrum

The student news site of Dartmouth High School

The Spectrum

Is it time to build a new DHS?

The Town of Dartmouth is exploring the possibility of turning the current DHS into a middle school and building the new high school where the current middle school is located.

On September 25, the Dartmouth School Committee detailed their Capital Improvement plan for the next several years. At the top of that list is the prospect of the existing middle school needing replacement. In addition to the middle school the School Committee’s long term plans are to replace all three elementary schools. At this time no official plan has been proposed. However, these issues are recognized and something will have to be done over the next several years. 

During the meeting the school committee proposed a series of hypothetical plans. One of those plans included the idea to build a new high school. This plan would aim to build a new high school on the campus of the existing middle school and in turn move middle school operations to the current high school. Another possibility associated with this plan is the relocation of grade five to the middle school to enable the district to close the century-old Cushman school. Other ideas included prioritizing the replacement of the elementary schools and tabling the issue of the middle school. 

The committee members had mixed reactions to all of these ideas, and so I caught up with Assistant Superintendent James Kiely to ask his perspective on some of these plans and the issues associated with them.

(Note: The Assistant Superintendent’s views do not represent those of the School Committee.) 

Building any type of school anywhere presents logistical challenges, but especially when that building will be built where one already exists. In the case of the plan to build a high school on the campus of the middle school, the district would have to completely redevelop the property to accomplish this. When asked about this, Mr. Kiely saw the pros and cons on this issue, nothing that the clear drawbacks of the plan “are logistical challenges to constructing a new building on the current Middle School/Quinn School property.” However, Mr. Keily said, in contrast, the pros of the plan are that since the district does not own another property in the center of town with the potential for developing a school  “the location in the center of town is very favorable.” 

The development of schools, no matter the size of the project, is an expensive process.

The development of schools, no matter the size of the project, is an expensive process. Particularly in the current inflationary times that our country’s economy is in. For example, in Somerset, MA the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of a new middle school was just held. This new school will house 600 students. This project is estimated to cost the town of Somerset nearly $90,000,000. A high cost for a project of a relatively small size. 

So what does this mean for Dartmouth? Well, it is hard to say. Mr. Kiely explained the “cost of a high school or middle school is very difficult to determine.” However, the scope of the project the district eventually undertakes will be a major factor in the cost. In fact he explained, “Cost depends greatly on the size of the building and the programs it will support.” But many would argue a high school is less complex than a middle school and so, therefore, a less expensive build. This is something Mr. Kiely pointed out saying, “Typically a middle school is less expensive to construct than a high school.” 

The district also has plans to close the nearly century old Cushman School. One of the ways to accomplish this is by building a larger middle school that can accommodate more grades. Mr. Kiely said, “If that were done, the new middle school would be more expensive than an average middle school…” All of these factors play into cost and until an official proposal is drafted determining the cost of whatever project eventually takes shape, it is just too difficult to know for sure at this time. 

All of these plans affect a specific group of Dartmouth students. But which plan will have the greatest impact on all students? When asked this, Mr. Kiely said, “A new high school improves the educational experience for all Dartmouth students.” Why is this? It would have an effect on all students because the town would have a centralized state of the art facility. In addition the school would be a major community gathering point. The school would also give “a competitive advantage to Dartmouth High School to retain and recruit students.” An important possibility because the district is following a statewide trend of falling enrollment. 

With all of these plans being in only a discussion stage it may be some time before an official direction forward is decided on. Although a major takeaway from these preliminary discussions is that many perspectives will be needed to make a plan that has the most impact and best suits the students of Dartmouth Public Schools.

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  • G

    GayleMar 9, 2024 at 1:36 pm

    I realize this article is “old”, but maybe someone will read this…In my opinion, Dartmouth is in constant conflict of North vs. South like a civil war. Also, a town that acts like a small city run by “farmers”. There is little progressive thinking, only reason to “roost in your hometown” is if you so choose employment in healthcare or UMass Dartmouth otherwise be like Irwin Jacobs and make money elsewhere and send it home. We should increase taxes, improve our infrastructure, preserve more land, develop great pre-K programs, computerize all our schools, improve our basics, and do more for young people in middle school that may lean towards a vocation than academics. To say the least, in my middle school years in the 70’s at least home economics, cooking class, and sewing made me more self-reliant even though I am an academic. By golly, I even had a math teacher who met with students to discuss the stock market (guess who showed up? ALL girls…)Overall, we are a wasteland of empty strip malls and an antiquated mall mall!

    First, sending 5th graders in with 6-8th grade children will be disastrous. Let children be children-you cannot mix children with pubescent children nor teachers prepared to handle loss of baby teeth mixed with menstrual cycles and illicit drug use. This will be a toxic mix for all that will make children “mature” faster than they already are…

    Indeed, a central elementary will mean a more focused culture and resources such as heat and electricity under one roof. There are empty “lots” everywhere in Dartmouth along with poorly developed “asphalt strip malls” with spotty stores. In local, state and federal programs and governments suggest involvement and voting at younger ages such as 16 plus along with age and term limits (think US Presidency, Supreme Court etc…). Maybe such questions should be posed to the young people of this fine town-high schoolers and UMass Dartmouth students that may or may not be vested in a future here? How about considering the one of the current gazillion golf courses or the old Hawthorn country club? Combining the Dartmouth Middle School and Quinn schools for a pre-K and elementary school experience? Have one be a pre-K to 2 nd grade and the other
    3-6 grade? Ask the students, the teachers, the educators, social workers, anthropologists, and child psychologists for POV’s…this world of opinions, jaded views, and financial objectives never work out in hindsight. Even looking at DHS built after 2000 is so backwards-poor climate control, under-developed labs and technology, cheaped-out sporting fields and parking. What has Dartmouth become? Upper-class “crust” to local yokels just getting by on old-timers (usually white, old, gun-toting misogynistic men with a hs diploma from the 1970’s) who made their money and mark and do not worry about our young or workers (teachers, civil workers, healthcare). So open your eyes and invest in “our” future because today’s yokels (this means YOU!) will someday be your wealth care estate attorney, politician, healthcare provider, police or fire personnel that may be responding to your needs…Yes, today’s wants that you “pluck from the meek, weak, voiceless become NEEDS as you become uninformed and grow older and colder. So please, I urge, do not “cut off your nose to spite your face” as this will become your biggest fear coming true-your biggest regret! By all means too -great decisions are not made by no decisions-so act now before it’s too late and we are just all aging farmers on “ass”phalt…GS

  • A

    Ahmed RNov 3, 2023 at 12:20 pm

    Would love this

    ever been to sharon or a new school like that?


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