Documents & Publications

WHCIS Educators & Somerille Educators Union Speak Out at City Council Meeting - May 26, 2022

PTA Group Letter to Mayor Ballantyne- June 1, 2022

In spring 2022, after educators revealed terrible conditions at the school, the Winter Hill PTA organized a group letter to the mayor asking to make building renovations a priority before the yearly budget deadline. Within 48 hours, more than 100 caregivers, educators, and community members signed in support. More than one year later, no official response to the letter has been received by the PTA. At the same time educators and staff pleaded at a School Committee for something to be done about the Winter Hill building.

Video: May 26, 2022 Somerville City Council meeting at which many educators spoke about the poor condition of the Winter Hill and its effect on their students

Each year the mayor puts out a plan for prioritizing capital improvements. The plan that Mayor Ballantyne published in spring 2023 includes $100 million for a brand new Public Safety Building in Union Square and $98 million to convert the abandoned "1895 Building" (part of the original Somerville High School campus) into municipal offices. No funds were included for Winter Hill Community Innovation School. The mayor's explanation was that Winter Hill would be funded through a ballot initiative for a real estate tax override (a popular way for municipalities to fund large projects—also used for the new high school) but that before any ballot measure the city needs to complete even more studies on the state of the school building and the needs of the district as a whole—studies scheduled to take until 2026! Information about the CIP can be found here, and the CIP plan itself can be found here

After educators, staff, and parents flooded School Committee meetings in spring 2023, the School Committee, City Council, and Mayor agreed to submit separate "Statements of Interest" to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for both Winter Hill Community Innovation School and the Benjamin Brown School. This is the first step in a competitive process to have the state cover 40% of the cost to build or renovate a school building.

The Winter Hill Statment of Interest can be found here.

The Brown School Statement of Interest can be  found here.

Video: March 20, 2023 and May 8, 2023 School Committee meetings featuring public comment by many Winter Hill educators and caregivers advocating for submision to MSBA and a clear and urgent timeline to design and fund a new building.

WHCIS PTA co-secretary Cassie Walston is the Director of Campaigns at Health Equity and Racial Equity for Justice (HERE4Justice). HERE4Justice is a student-led organization embedded in the Simmons Master of Public Health Program. The letter from HERE4Justice named the school building conditions at WHCIS an issue of racial injustice, social injustice, and health inequity. 

The Winter Hill PTA invited community members and Somerville residents to show up at the virtual meeting of the City Finance Committee on the evening of June 5, 2023. Parents and staff came mobilized and prepared to stop the city budget, and were successful. City Councilor at Large Willie Burnley Jr. refused to vote on the budget and filed an order that states: “That this Council sends back the FY24 budget until it incorporates the demands of residents, including funding for a new Winter Hill School, housing security, and unarmed alternative emergency response outside of the police department.”

Video: City Council Finance Committee Public Hearing on Budget June 5, 2023, City Council Meeting June 8, 2023, School Committee meeting June 12, 2023