Old Colony seeks town aid for feasibility study, possible renovation
ROCHESTER — Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School is in need of a facelift — at least according to Superintendent Aaron Polansky’s 12-year-old son.
When asked if he would attend Old Colony, Polansky recalled that his son said “I would dad, but when people walk in, sometimes they feel like they're stuck in the 1970s.”
Old Colony opened its doors in 1975 and since then, it has had no significant improvements and many of the school’s systems have “surpassed their useful life,” said Polansky.
Polansky said that while the building has been “well-maintained,” the “bones” of the structure are starting to falter.
“We have no water redundancy, we're dependent on the singular well; we have no fire protection because of the year we were built, there are no sprinklers; we have issues with plumbing with brickwork,” said Polansky. “The list is pretty exhaustive.”
A complete list of areas of improvement can be found on Old Colony’s website.
According to Polansky, the school’s size has also stopped them from accepting new students, who would otherwise not be able to attend a vocational high school.
Now, to help repair the “bones” of the school, Old Colony hopes to conduct a $1 million feasibility study to look into the possibility of renovation, new construction or a combination of both — and they’re asking their five member towns for support.
Mattapoisett and Rochester will both see Town Meeting items that ask residents to vote on paying toward Old Colony’s feasibility study.
Mattapoisett’s Town Meeting is on Monday, May 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Old Rochester Regional High School. Rochester’s Town Meeting is on Monday, May 22 at 7 p.m. at the Rochester Council on Aging.
According to Polansky, the amount contributed by each town is determined by the number of students enrolled at the school. This number could change as enrollments fluctuate each year, he said.
Rochester will be asked to contribute an estimated amount of $100,000 over the next five years and Mattapoisett will be asked to contribute an estimated amount of $50,000 over the next five years, he said.
This would amount to approximately $20,000 per year for Rochester and approximately $10,000 per year for Mattapoisett.
The school is prepared to cover $500,000 of the total cost using its own stabilization fund. If approved at town meetings, Mattapoisett, Rochester, Carver, Acushnet and Lakeville would contribute the remaining $500,000.
However, noted Polansky, the funding “needs to be unanimous.” If even one member town does not vote to support the Town Meeting item, the school cannot follow through with the feasibility study.
Polansky hopes that town residents will vote to fund the study because of the benefits provided by Old Colony.
“I think there's a reciprocity, I think that Old Colony does a lot. We're not just a school for students in grades nine through 12,” said Polansky. “Our job is not to operate just inside these walls, it's to give back.”
Polansky pointed to the school’s culinary students who operate a public restaurant out of the school, automotive students who perform car repairs and cosmetology students who operate a salon at the school.
“I call them hidden benefits that people are not aware of,” he said. “And as they become more aware, we become more of an asset to the community. And when [people] discover us, they come back — they become regulars, which is nice.”