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NORTH OF BOSTON

Northeast Metro Tech project is on the ballot in 12 communities

Voters in 12 communities head to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of a plan to construct a new Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational High School in Wakefield.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority last August agreed to cover $140.8 million of the overall $317.4 million cost of the project. But last fall, the project failed to secure the needed unanimous backing of all 12 of its member communities — 10 supported it but Chelsea and Saugus rejected it.

In response, the district exercised its legal option to seek a districtwide referendum, scheduling the vote for Jan. 25. If the referendum passes with a majority of voters favoring it, all 12 communities will be required to cover their share of the district’s project debt. Shares are based on enrollment.

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The proposal calls for demolishing the existing school and replacing it with a new 390,000-square-foot structure on an adjacent section of the 60-acre Wakefield campus. District officials say the existing school, built in 1968, has outlived its useful life, and suffers from overcrowded classrooms and shops, outdated systems, and inadequate access for people with disabilities.

The district communities are Chelsea, Malden, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Revere, Saugus, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester, Winthrop, and Woburn. Voting hours in all 12 communities Tuesday are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.