I had negative feelings about building a new school. Remember last winter, when Dr. Cavanaugh spent months poor-mouthing over the tax burden related to keeping a few therapists in our schools? Therapists who service our most vulnerable children. My child being one of them. The price tag that parents had to fight for was a little over $100,000. Then, only a few months later, we had to listen to talks about spending close to $200 million on a brand new school. This was a tough pill to swallow for many.
I thought, “Why can’t we just use that vacant building on South Street?” Turns out, this idea will NOT save us money. We will be cobbling together a building that is not designed as a school, and we will also forfeit tens of millions in MSBA funding. In the end, the difference is $10 million. The committee of residents looked at dozens of possible locations, and this is the most economical solution. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be hearing from me.
Elmwood is not worth saving. Seriously, have you been in the building lately? I was there recently, and this building is in rough shape. It is not possible to polish this turd. The cost to re-home the kids during construction is in the tens of millions. And where? How will this affect their ability to learn? What will happen to our most vulnerable? Will they be included in the school culture? A solution can’t come soon enough for teachers and children who use this building.
Yes, something must be done. We must grow our schools to accommodate our children. The cost of doing nothing is actually more, and in the end, we’ll still need to build a new school. In the meantime, we’ll lose educators who no longer want to teach in closets, hallways and stages. Our kids are negatively affected, being crowded into crumbling infrastructure.
There are solutions to this problem — a “no” vote will cost more — in taxes — in the education of our kids — in declining property values. I am sure we can all agree that the shining star of our town is our schools. All voters in your home should attend the meeting on Monday, and please vote “yes” to put the new school on the ballot. Our town leaders need to step it up and show us they can mitigate our tax burden.
— Jen Halliday, Hopkinton
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