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Thoughts of a New High School Nixed

by Bobby Blair
March 6, 2018

Selectmen earlier in the day on Monday met with senior citizens at the senior center on Goulding Street. Selectman Mark Ahronian summed up the seniors concerns, mainly the town's high taxes and the lack of affordable housing. Ahronian said "its sad to hear and very concerning".

Supt. of Schools Dr. Brad Jackson and School Committee woman Stacey Raffi appeared before the board seeking approval to submit a letter of consideration to the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The letter would begin a process with an end game of building a new high school. The current building on Hollis Street is nearly fifty years old and has water issues and outdated windows according to Dr. Jackson. Jackson said he was "reluctant to invest significant monies in the building without community input". Jackson feels the building is not conducive to 21st century instruction. When the topic came up for a vote, Selectman Jay Marsden said he felt the idea was premature, Conley said "it felt rushed" and Ahronian cited water infrastructure needs and affordable housing facing the town, before the board voted to not pursue the letter of interest for a new school.

Town Administrator Jeff Ritter noted that the job positions of a Lieutenant for the police department and a Director of Youth and Family Services are posted due to vacancies and retirement. Ritter said that the town has now received $194,000 from Brighton Health & Mayflower Medicinals, the medical marijuana growers in town.

The Board accepted the resignation of Heather Kemp from the Cultural Arts Council. Chairman Kevin Conley then presented his list of goals and objectives. Conley cited Capital Planning, Freezing Seniors' Taxes and Affordable Senior Housing as his top three priorities. Conley was also interested in a Downtown Economic Development Project, and a Selectmen Outreach Program. Marsden and Ahronian will weigh in with their top priorities at a future meeting.


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Comments (19)

I once heard the definition of a Selectman as "someone who insures an equal distribution of discontent". But it is my opinion that Holliston is - as the BOS recognizes - not a single-dimension town. While good schools prop up real estate values, that is not the only thing that makes Holliston vibrant. And if we continue to devote resources primarily to schools, other things fall behind. Seniors, who make up a quarter of our population, and do not utilize schools, are squeezed more and more and have less and less options for housing, and thus have to consider leaving a senior-unfriendly town. We need to continue to invest in a beautiful and warm downtown, and support local businesses; public safety must remain a priority, given the climate of the day; roads deteriorate, water needs to be clean, recreation activities for children and families are important. Good schools are effective and draw families, but other priorities keep a community rounded. I applaud the BOS for taking a whole community view.

- Bob Malone | 3/9/18 6:37 PM

Wouldn't it be nice to see people talking about more senior housing so we will have a place to go when we can not afford to pay the property tax any more. 83 years old now, paying property taxes since 1963 in Holliston. It is time for some real help for senior's before we build or buy any thing else.


- warren legee | 3/8/18 4:50 PM

The comment to which I was responding has been removed from the comments, thus it's apparent irrelevance.

- John Losch | 3/8/18 3:58 PM

Nice talk, Jay l. Community spirit to the core. I guess your purpose to be in Holliston is to see how much you can sell your house for (after you are through with the schools?). Too bad you are afraid to sign your name.

- John Losch | 3/8/18 12:38 PM

What is the down side of submitting a letter of consideration to the MA School Building Authority and asking for a feasibility study for the high school?

As many of us will recall, it is a multi-step, multi-year process to build a new school. There are several points along the way that require Town Meeting approval. Taking this first step would give the Town more information re: actual need. It would not commit the Town to a course of action beyond that. Only Town Meeting can do that.

- Susan Haley | 3/7/18 4:02 PM

all you have to do is run for selectmen as a one issue candidate and parents will come out and vote for you. Then have someone else do it again next year. Not sure why people are running unopposed for these races that past couple of years. At least make them work for it.

- bill | 3/7/18 3:34 PM

sadly this is exactly what happened to the sewers in this town..... put off, put off put off, now look at the water issue.. nasty, brown undrinkable water and a fee that is cumbursome and never ending!!!! this town will never learn, will never move forward and will always be "stuck" the small town feel is ok, but not at the cost of the extremely over taxed citizens.. sad I believe all of these selectman have their heads in the sand.. . just plain sad

- Just like the sewers in town | 3/7/18 1:15 PM

It is very disappointing that the Board of Selectmen aren't even willing to begin the process of exploring a much-needed new high school. I no longer have a child in the system, but I do live here and pay taxes. The only thing that's going to maintain, but hopefully increase, the value of our home, is to have a competitive school system. That includes the infrastructure and current tools that allow our students to excel at their own best level. I would suggest that the BoS take two tours: one of the current high school and one in a much newer facility in a nearby District (maybe Natick, even Ashland or Medway). I'm sure no one expects a building like Newton North, but certainly we can do better than we have now.

- Erica Plunkett | 3/7/18 9:20 AM

Glad to hear about the brakes on the HS. We have way too many other things to worry about.

- serena keating | 3/7/18 8:20 AM

Extremely disappointed that Selectmen are kicking the can down the road. The letter starts a process that will take years before the Town sees a new school building become a reality. People choose to move to Holliston and pay taxes for the school system and the wonderful sense of community. Other towns will surpass us while we send our children to school in a building in disrepair which leaks both water and heat, cannot support classroom space and current and future technology needs and hinders efforts to keep students safe due to outdated building design. I urge the community to consider the value of starting the process of updating our educational facilities sooner rather than later.

- Alison Quinan | 3/7/18 12:40 AM

Disappointed that the Selectmen don't see value in a feasibility study to understand the future needs/requirements for a new High School. Believe this is short sighted and not building a long term plan for the future of Holliston education. The High School already needs (and will need more) significant work or replacement and will only cost taxpayers more down the road. In a few years the debt ('20 & in '22) from the Adams, Miller and previous High School rehab will retire. This request and timing made sense to build a plan and incorporate this effort into a broader master plan for our community. Opportunity missed.

- Brian Grace | 3/6/18 9:29 PM

Oh, Holliston, how profligate are thou ways? Just because a building is 50 doesn't mean you replace it. Outdated windows? C'mon. We can cover them with boards. Kids have too many distractions. You hang onto a building this cherry until they pry it from your cold, dead hands. If things get real bad, let's send over some special "grass" from Brighton Health & Mayflower Medicinals. We finally have a growth industry that producing some "green" if you know what I mean.

- Jim G. Lighthauser | 3/6/18 7:15 PM

What about taking care of what we have. Don't see much maintenance being done.

Think of the elderly in town that can't afford any more taxes.

- Laurianne Wills | 3/6/18 6:02 PM

What about a new highway garage? Place looks like it's in horrible shape. Went down to grab some sand from the resident pile and was in shock at the age of the building you would think the guys who take care of the town would have somewhat a decent shop

- Frank mahon | 3/6/18 5:54 PM

We should be pushing the new high school as soon as is feasible. People move to this area because of the school system and we are now lagging not only Hopkinton but also Medway in terms of high school. Holliston needs to compete and revitalize downtown into more of an eat here, play here and shop here type of vibe. We need to do a better job of keeping up with the times.

- Jay | 3/6/18 5:53 PM

Bobby: Thank you!

- Bill Duffy | 3/6/18 3:17 PM

One of the top priorities should be a new high school. The MSBA process can take a long time, from initial feasibility study. I find it hard to believe that two selectmen feel the idea is "rushed" or premature. They must be aware of the age and condition of the building.

- K Mackey | 3/6/18 3:03 PM

A replacement for Lt. David Gatchell

- Bobby Blair | 3/6/18 2:54 PM

Which Police Lieutenant is retiring?

- Bill Duffy | 3/6/18 1:11 PM



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