Old Colony gets green light to start studying expansion, renovation

Sep 7, 2023

ROCHESTER — Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School in Rochester has received state approval to study a potential expansion or reconstruction of the school to accommodate a growing enrollment and provide additional course studies. 

Old Colony Superintendent Aaron Polansky described the approval granted Aug. 30 by the Massachusetts School Building Authority as “a landmark moment’’ in the school’s history. 

Voters in Old Colony’s five member towns of Lakeville, Mattapoisett, Rochester, Acushnet and Carver supported the feasibility study at their respective town meetings to gauge next steps in the school’s future plans. 

Officials will now study whether renovation, new construction or some combination of the two would be best to meet the school’s needs, Polansky said. 

Demand for enrollment is growing, he said, with more than twice the number of applications than available spaces.

The school receives more than 300 applications every year for 140 slots in the freshman class, Polansky said. 

Old Colony is also exploring the addition of plumbing, HVAC, dental assisting and biotechnology programs.

“There is huge demand for what we do, and there's still room to grow as we bring our aging facility up to speed,’’ Polansky said.

The study, Polansky noted,  will also allow school officials to “more accurately determine the cost’’ of the work.

This would represent the school’s first large-scale project in conjunction with the Massachusetts School Building Authority since the building opened in 1975. 

As they are learning trades, Old Colony students also serve the public in various ways, the superintendent said.

Carpentry and architecture and engineering students have done work in all five communities the school serves. Culinary students serve breakfast and lunch to visitors four days a week at the on-site restaurant. 

The cosmetology program features a fully operational salon and students visit local senior centers to provide services. The automotive and graphics programs also serve the public, he said.

The next step in potential expansion/reconstruction would be to seek out an owner's project manager to guide the project through the feasibility study, Polansky said. 

“Our hope is to remain a leader in the field,’’ the superintendent said, and “to provide our students, families and communities with the best product possible.’’