Press Release

Press Release  Healey-Driscoll Administration to Explore Shared Campus Model for Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School and Northern Essex Community College

Seeks Community Input to Help Modernize, Expand Access, and Deliver Effective Educational Opportunities at Both Institutions
For immediate release:
  • Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll
  • Executive Office of Education

Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration to Explore Shared Campus Model for Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School and Northern Essex Community College

Karissa Hand, Press Secretary

Boston — Today, the Healey-Driscoll administration announced initial steps to explore a shared campus model for Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School (WT) and Northern Essex Community College (NECC) on NECC’s Haverhill campus, a collaborative effort with state and local partners that aims to meet the evolving educational needs of the region’s students and communities, efficiently and affordably. 

This partnership with NECC and WT will explore ways to create a new, modern facility for Whittier Tech, allow for expanded access to postsecondary education across northeastern Massachusetts, and increase enrollment capacity at both institutions and make them more affordable. It will also open up new avenues for potential additional funding sources beyond cities and towns in the Merrimack Valley. 

“Our administration knows that a new, modern facility is needed for Whittier Tech, but we also understand the communities’ concerns about cost,” said Governor Maura Healey. “This potential collaboration between Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School and Northern Essex Community College aims to meet the needs of our students and communities in an efficient, affordable and innovative way. In the coming weeks, our administration will be engaging with local officials to provide information about this vision and receive their feedback. We’re grateful for the leadership of NECC President Lane Glenn and Whittier Tech Superintendent Maureen Lynch and look forward to our continued partnership as we work toward a solution that will benefit our students, educators, communities and economy.” 

“This is a pivotal moment for education and workforce development,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “This effort is intended to generate a shared commitment across the district to develop a plan that will meet the demands of our students in an ever-changing economy, while also accounting for the financial demands of municipal budgets.” 

“NECC and Whittier Tech have similar missions and have been successfully collaborating on Early College and adult vocational programs for years,” said Lane Glenn, President of Northern Essex Community College. “With better paying jobs requiring some kind of postsecondary education and training, exploring an innovative shared campus model has tremendous potential for students, families, communities, and the regional workforce needs of the Merrimack Valley.” 
“Whittier Tech is excited about the possibility of working with NECC and exploring opportunities to combine our resources to support our students and our workforce,” said Whittier Tech Superintendent Maureen Lynch. “We’re grateful to the Healey-Driscoll administration for their leadership on this innovative proposal that has the potential to be truly transformative for our school and our economy.” 

“We know that the spaces that our students and educators spend time in can facilitate or inhibit learning,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Patrick Tutwiler. “I look forward to working with NECC President Lane Glenn, Whittier Tech Superintendent Maureen Lynch and our state and local partners on this innovative collaboration and shared commitment that centers student and educator experiences and sets them up for success, while also supporting the local community and economy.” 

The Healey-Driscoll administration will work collaboratively with Northern Essex Community College and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School to convene legislators, municipal officials, and other regional stakeholders to discuss this initiative, obtain feedback, and foster collaboration to explore the possibility of a new high school building and site proposal for Whittier Tech.  

In collaboration with NECC and Whittier Tech, the administration intends to engage the communities of Amesbury, Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Ipswich, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury, and West Newbury to address previous challenges, drive innovation for our students, and garner excitement across the district. 

Statements of Support: 

Katherine Craven, Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Secondary and Elementary Education and former Executive Director of the Massachusetts School Building Authority: 
“Governor Healey and Lt. Governor Driscoll are blazing a new and inventive trail for students of Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School, culminating not only in access to higher quality learning facilities through Northern Essex Community College, but also exposure to the benefits of post-secondary education. This proposal has national implications because of its creative sharing of joint facilities, the elimination of unnecessary educational silos, making the best use of limited taxpayer construction dollars and maximizing learning opportunities for our vocational students, who are the future problem solvers and creative thinkers of Massachusetts.” 

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester): 
“Clearly the challenges presented by the deteriorating building conditions at Whittier demand a response informed by an inclusive, collaborative, and financially responsible conversation between all of its stakeholders, including the member communities that have many serious and legitimate concerns. Exploring a partnership with Northern Essex Community College offers an innovative path that will bring the many strengths of NECC to the table in pursuit of a collaboration that could capitalize on the synergy of co-location to modernize and expand facilities, programs, and capacity through the power of both schools working together. I am encouraged by the prospects for a respectful, productive, and energetic process to capture the potential represented by this possible partnership.” 

State Senator Barry Finegold (D-Andover): 
“It is clear that Whittier Tech needs a new school building, and I appreciate the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s creative proposal for maximizing educational services for young people in our region. This problem solving between school leaders, local and state partners demonstrate dedication to delivering for our students.” 

State Senator Pavel Payano (D-Lawrence):
“The proposal to explore a collaborative campus for Whittier Tech and Northern Essex Community College is both astute and imperative. This initiative underscores our unwavering commitment to enhancing our vocational education institution which is critical to fortifying our local economy and community. I commend Governor Healey for her proactive leadership in spearheading efforts to devise a resolution that stands to enrich the educational experience for students in my district. The joint effort between Whittier and Northern Essex marks a pivotal step towards equipping our students with the skills and opportunities that will lead to fulfilling well-paying careers.” 

State Representative Andy X. Vargas (D-Haverhill): 
“Whittier Tech plays a critical role for our students, adult learners, manufacturers and our regional economy. The school is a catalyst for economic opportunity and social mobility. That’s why our delegation is so committed to realizing a suitable and world class facility. I’m grateful that the Healey-Driscoll Administration, NECC, and the Treasurer's office are open to exploring this model and appreciate their continued partnership.” 

State Representative Kristin E. Kassner (D-Hamilton): 
“I am encouraged by the out-of-the-box thinking on this important issue and thank the Healey-Driscoll Administration for convening this discussion. This partnership has the potential to offer an unmatched opportunity to create an integrated educational campus – giving all students access to state-of-the art skilled trade labs as well as top-level access to early college. This relationship can only strengthen Whittier and Northern Essex Community College by providing seamless educational pathways that will better prepare our young people to enter the modern workforce.” 

State Representative Dawne Shand (D-Newburyport): 
“A workforce education that is pragmatic, accessible to all who want to pursue it, affordable for every family, and above all, excellent—that’s the galvanizing vision behind the NECC and Whittier project. The First Essex is grateful to Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll for spearheading this initiative." 

State Representative Ryan Hamilton (D-Methuen): 
“Partnerships between our vocational schools and community colleges are crucial for connecting our young people with the training and education they need to thrive in the workforce. I am thrilled to see two Merrimack Valley institutions come together to address a tough situation with creativity and collaboration. Thank you to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for your leadership in fostering a regional solution that centers our students, educators, and diverse community needs.” 

State Representative Adrienne Ramos (D-North Andover): 
“I’m thrilled to learn about this project. The greater Whittier Tech community has grappled with the balance of replacing or repairing this important school and the budget limitations of small member towns. I commend the administration for this creative and fresh look at the vocational model to amplify and support Essex County. I look forward to working with the administration in pursuit of the project.” 

Amesbury Mayor Kassandra Gove:  
“It’s reassuring that our efforts and the voice of local voters were heard beyond our borders. I’m incredibly grateful for the Governor’s team and thought leaders in our region for their willingness to think outside the box and forge a new path for our students to achieve success and access to career training.” 

Haverhill Mayor Melinda Barrett:  
“I am grateful to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and NECC for their partnership and commitment to ensuring that Whittier Voc Tech will continue to provide a valuable education to Haverhill students while simultaneously preparing them to successfully meet the vocational workforce demands of the region.” 

Mayor of Newburyport Sean Reardon:  
“I’m cautiously optimistic about the possibility of a partnership between Whittier Voc-Tech and NECC. I know this is a successful model used around the country. Newburyport is committed to continue the work towards an amended regional agreement that hopefully will help pave the way towards a solution that is a win for Whittier, NECC, the Commonwealth and all eleven cities and towns. I’m thankful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration and Lane Glenn for continuing to think out of the box and work collaboratively towards solutions.” 

Groveland Town Administrator Rebecca Oldham: 
“This partnership will provide an opportunity for the Whitter Regional School District and Northern Essex Community College to utilize resources and funding options more efficiently so that we are able to continue to provide quality education and workforce training in the Merrimack Valley. We are grateful to Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll for initiating this effort and working closely with local municipalities.” 

Ipswich Town Manager Stephen Crane: 
“One of the things that became apparent during the debate about the proposed new Whittier School building is that the decades-old regional vocational school agreements, which in some cases pre-date the passage of Proposition 2.5, need to be reconsidered. The proposed partnership with Northern Essex Community College is a perfect opportunity to do just that—and more. The widespread support for vocational education, combined with a new paradigm involving community colleges, could give students more learning opportunities while providing additional resources to cities and towns. It could redefine ‘win-win’.”  

West Newbury Town Manager Angus Jennings: 
“We recently became aware of the involvement of Governor Healey’s and Lt. Gov. Driscoll’s office in facilitating an expanded partnership between Whittier Tech and NECC. This is welcome and exciting news and suggests potential to substantially advance this regionally significant initiative in a creative way. Whittier Tech is fundamentally important to our region, yet its governing document – a 1960s-era Regional Agreement – has created obstacles to solving the well-known deficiencies in the school’s physical plant. A partnership with NECC could result in win/win/win outcomes for both educational institutions, and for the eleven cities and towns in the Whittier Tech district, whether through innovative land use planning, expanded programmatic collaboration among the two institutions’ students and faculty, or both. It could also expand eligibility for funding sources that haven’t been available solely for the proposed Whittier Tech school building project. The Governor’s and Lt. Governor’s active engagement in this effort offers real promise to move forward in parallel on both the school building project, and the underlying framework for collaboration among the communities in our region. We welcome this development and look forward to being an active partner.” 

Alexandria Eberhardt, President & CEO, Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce: 
“This strategic partnership between NECC and Whittier Tech is as exciting as it is necessary for our region’s economic future. Workforce development as a catalyst for regional economic growth is a core priority in the work of the Greater Haverhill Chamber. As our regional industries and businesses evolve, strategic partnerships will be paramount in meeting our current and future workforce needs. The Greater Haverhill Chamber currently has strong workforce partnerships with MakeIT Haverhill, Northern Essex Community College and UMass Lowell, and we are looking forward to further enhancing the regional ecosystem of workforce development.” 

Joseph Bevilacqua, President/CEO, Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce: 
“As an advocate for transformative programming, this initiative promises to enhance both vocational education and academic achievement, alongside workforce skill training, through a synergistic partnership with Northern Essex Community College (NECC). Such collaborations are essential for preparing a future workforce that is both versatile and highly skilled, meeting the evolving demands of our economy.” 

Sheila Beach, Executive Director, Amesbury Chamber of Commerce: 
“As strong advocates for workforce development, we are excited to learn about the possibility of an alliance between Whittier Technical High School and Northern Essex Community College. This partnership has the potential to create even more opportunities for individuals of all ages to pursue highly skilled trades and advanced education in our community. By joining forces, these institutions can continue their legacy of empowering individuals and strengthening our workforce, ensuring a bright future for our community.” 

Nate Allard, President, Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce & Industry: 
“As an alumnus of Northern Essex Community College (NECC) with a longstanding commitment to skills-based trades and vocational training, I am genuinely excited to embrace innovative proposals from our esteemed government and academic leaders. The dynamic workforce in Newburyport, and throughout the Merrimack Valley, necessitates a comprehensive approach to training and educating students in essential job sectors that are currently in demand and will continue to be vital in the future. We are enthusiastic about the opportunities this partnership presents and are committed to actively engaging in dialogue to ensure our business needs are addressed throughout this collaborative process.” 


Media Contact   for Healey-Driscoll Administration to Explore Shared Campus Model for Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School and Northern Essex Community College

  • Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll 

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