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A New School or Library

by Bobby Blair
January 29, 2019

Library Director Leslie McDonnell, below, and the library trustees attended Monday night's board meeting for guidance. McDonnell said she had heard talk about the library being abandoned. Finance Committee Chairman Ken Szajda had voiced at a previous meeting that the library was a money pit and should be abandoned. McDonnell asked if the staff and trustees should be looking for a long term planning consultant. Several trustees said that the current remodeling is losing children to other libraries mainly Millis and that our own children's section is small and limited. Selectman John Cronin took issue with the Finance Committee's believing the library was a money pit. I disagree, he said, and 300k over eight years is not a lot. Chairman Jay Marsden said he would like to see what a 21st century library looks like. No vote was taken and discussions will continue.

No sooner than the discussion about a new library was put to rest for the night, Chairman Marsden said he had been requested by School Committee Chairwoman Stacey Raffi if the board would be willing to vote on a letter of feasibility to state officials regarding the building of a new high school. The board had been approached last year by Dr. Brad Jackson concerning the same subject. Selectman Cronin said planning for something 10 years down the road is due, but I'd also like to see a plan by the Supt. and Raffi how they're going to maintain their present assets. Mark Ahronian asked whether there are other plans such as remodeling? Let's keep remodeling what we have. Ahronian also felt monies would be better spent on the town water infrastrucure. Chairman Marsden said nothing has changed since last year and didn't like the idea of putting all our eggs in one basket. No vote was taken in regards to Raffi's request.

 

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Comments (4)

I agree wholeheartedly with Jim. This is very disappointing. The school committee and senior administration did exactly what they were asked to do last year. They held a public hearing. During that hearing they articulated all the steps needed to go through the process. They made it very clear that NO MONEY would be allocated or asked for, for at least 10 years. The building will be 50 this year. It is old, in disrepair and unlike our water pipes which one selectmen referenced, many of our children are spending all day, every day in this environment. Why does the school need a plan about maintenance in place BEFORE filing paperwork for a feasibility study? Given the 10-year time frame maintenance will need to be done. I'm not sure if Mr. Ahronian attended the meeting, but, if he had, he would have heard the answer to remodel versus rebuild. In virtually every case it is less expensive to rebuild. To suggest that our only option is to pay for water infrastructure or a new school is truly maddening. If that is really where we are as a town, I hope this message gets to our local realtors who will now have to change their narrative from "We have a world class school system" to "You should see our water pipes, they are first rate."

- Anne-Marie Dorning | 2/2/19 9:44 AM

Agree with Matthew Coletti... and I would add that the benign opportunity to option a feasibility study for a new high school seems to have been seized upon by some as an opportunity for political posturing with regard to issues that are, for all practical purposes in this area, non-starters -- and therefore, obfuscators: affordable housing and lower property taxes. These are laudable but, frankly, laughable goals. Recent trends would not suggest the property taxes going down in any meaningful way in the years ahead. And what affordable housing is built (and where? and when? and by whom?) will not exclusively be available to what seems to be the selectmen's pandered-to constituency-of-choice... the seniors. What's troubling is not just the absolute 'not gonna go there' attitude of the board for a new-high-school study that apparently carries no strings ... but the complete and utter lack of a long-term vision for a town that wants desperately to be known for the excellence of its school system. Agree that a new building does not confer instant or (in Holliston's mind) extended excellence. But the education experts in town -- and they are to be listened to, I believe -- know that to upgrade the current building to current and future teaching standards would be throwing good money after bad. Many other towns seem to have gotten this message without any problem at all. So what's the problem here?

- Jim Morelli | 1/31/19 11:49 PM

I believe it was discussed at the 1/15/19 meeting hosted by the School Committee that remodeling was an option that could be fully vetted during the feasibility study for which the School Committee is seeking authority to submit a letter of intent. This is the second year where the Superintendent and School Committee have sought permission from the Selectmen to express intent. This would be the first step toward having those important questions asked and answered in the appropriate forum. I recall last year the request was put off with the Selectmen suggestion the Superintendent seek public comment, which was the purpose of the 1/15/19 meeting. That meeting also included the basis for the Superintendent's plan. It appears as though the request was again not entertained, which means this year's deadline to submit will likely pass and push this off another year. Forestalling a "no-obligation" necessary first step in a ten year process is arguably not a constructive approach toward solving what many believe to be an imminent issue.

- Matthew Coletti | 1/29/19 4:30 PM

Is there any reason the town library couldn't be housed in the same building

- Rich Burnhan | 1/29/19 11:32 AM

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