Sure, there are reasons why Saugus needs a new high school. There’s a difference though between paying for a new high school versus paying for projects that redo the entire school district plus create a new sports arena on top of the one we’re already refurbishing. This site describes why you should vote no in the Saugus Special Election on June 20.
There are many ways in which this project is going to be more costly than has been widely advertised, including misleading discounts, water & sewer complications, overly complicated payment plans, and incomplete information released to the public. If it’s too expensive or wasting our limited resources, we should vote against it.
There are also multiple reasons why this is not the proper time to be doing this project, ranging from existing burdens coming due now to extra penalties simply because we’re not waiting long enough. If it’s the wrong time, we should vote against it.
Disturbingly there are also indications that this project still doesn’t address the real problems we’ve got. With this plan in place we’ll still be coming back to try and fix our existing Level 3 problems and will still need to handle capacity problems across elementary, middle, and high school grades. If this doesn’t fix the problems it’s supposed to fix, we should vote against it.
This site will serve as a collection of facts about the proposed Saugus Public Schools project, complete with backing information from authoritative sources (like the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Town of Saugus, etc.) enabling voters to make a proper, informed opinion before going to vote. Even at this late stage, there are unfortunately more questions than answers available. A lot of information that ought to have been released has been withheld from the public.
The Saugus School System is facing some challenges, but they’re quite a bit deeper than buildings. With all additional available funding going to this building project, what will be left to deal with the real problem, Saugus’ Level 3 Status? Saugus has been at Level 3 statewide ranking for years, and it’s not because of the buildings.
This timing means that we’ll be getting hit with additional tax burden, because the $9.7 million for the recent Belmonte renovations will kick in on July 1, 2017. There are also 2 - 3 years left on the Veterans School according to the draft budget.
The MSBA reimbursement is not 53/55% of the entire amount, but is only taken off the MSBA approved expenditures of $127 million?
Because Saugus recently took money to redo the Belmonte School as a middle school and this project is repurposing it as an elementary school, Saugus will have to pay back $1.75 Million to the MSBA.
Review of these budget documents shows that the cost of new high middle school is $160,720,553.00 with a maximum MSBA grant of $65,094,250.00. Leaving residents to pay $95,626,303.00. Furthermore the rehab of Belmonte and the Veterans Memorial School will cost $25,400,000.00. This cost will be paid in full by the residents. This is a total tax payer obligation of $121,026,303.00 after all reimbursements. The breakdown for the debt exclusion will be 20% for business and 80% for residential, so the bulk of the payments will be from residential home owners.
The offer of in some not-fully-described manner partially excluding Town seniors from this added tax burden may be just a ploy to attract the senior vote in Saugus, as Saugus is over 19% seniors. If it is a ploy it’s pretty obvious (and the fact that it’s only being brought up now after the special election has been set up would seem to indicate that it is just a last-ditch effort to gain votes) but even if genuine there’s no guarantee it can go through as its legality has not been determined. If it does, it’ll be a substantial impact to the non-senior households. Regardless, seniors should not rely on anything that is not settled and guaranteed legal when voting.
What is the Towns’ contingency plan in case of a failed vote? Will the town resubmit in the form of just a new high school within the required 10 day time frame? There’s not been a backup plan published for review even though the allotted time frame is short.
A report from 2002 states there is no room for any additions to the Veterans School, so why is there room now and what is the impact? See page 14 of the report for details.
Is there a completed traffic study done and available? Only a draft traffic report has been released. Traffic issues at all three schools have not been adequately addressed. The draft study only describes anticipated traffic volume.
Per the plan all neighborhood elementary schools will close. Students in grades pre-K to 2 will go to the Veterans Memorial. Students in grades 3 to 5 will go to Belmonte, and students in grades 6 to 12 will go to the new high middle school. Parents of students living further from these school will need to choose how their children will get to school. Currently a Saugus bus pass is $360 per year per child.
The project will not result in increased school capacity. The new school capacity is approximately the same as the capacity for the existing SHS and Belmonte Middle Schools.
Stackpole Field is already in line for a $1.3 million dollar renovation. Why do we also need a new stadium?
Both a 6" water pipe and a 12" sewer line go across the field under the proposed school building site. These will need to be rerouted down Route 1, and the Department of Transportation and their engineers will have to be involved with all of the added burdens (financial, scheduling, etc.) that implies. Any expenses not covered by the override will have to come out of the regular budget, as there’s no other source of money. This will further negatively impact other school and town programs, exacerbating other problems.
Want to learn more about one of these topics or don’t believe it? Click it to learn more about it and see backing source documentation that you can peruse yourself.
Please check back soon as we’ll be updating this page frequently as more information becomes available. While we have provided direct links to many of the key documents, the concerned reader can pretty readily reconfirm everything via a search through the Saugus High School Project Building Committee pages and the MSBA site.