Arlington has the chance to receive approximately $86 million from the MSBA to cover the cost of rebuilding the high school. If Arlington doesn’t pass a debt exclusion, then Arlington will lose the $86 million. Most towns with a failed debt exclusion were either not accepted back into the MSBA process or had to wait years to be reaccepted.
Without an override, Arlington will need to make cuts starting as soon as next year. Many of us will remember the significant cuts the town had to make before we passed our last override in 2011. Others may not remember those cuts or didn’t live here at the time. It is sometimes difficult to recognize all the programs the Town provides our citizens until they are missing.
With two years of careful planning and a partnership with the state that includes an $86 million grant, we’re on the right path to build a high school that will serve our students and community well for a long time to come….If voters say no to this project, the offer of $86 million from the state goes away. This would be a tremendous loss for Arlington taxpayers, because in all likelihood we’d have to go to Plan B, which would cost Arlington more.
On June 11th Arlington residents will vote on two important questions: Question 1 to fund the rebuild of Arlington High School, and Question 2 to fund our core services through an operating override. While I believe that voting Yes on both questions is necessary, I want to explain why voting Yes on Question 2 is critically important.
While there are many reasons to support a new AHS, today I ask voters to consider the barriers created by the current building’s lack of accessibility. I have been working as a public school physical therapist in neighboring towns for the past 14 years and have worked closely with students who have physical disabilities.
The town of Arlington leadership does an admirable job of planning ahead; Arlington hasn’t asked the voters for an operating override in eight years. Since the last operating override in 2011, the footprint of Arlington hasn’t changed. However, school enrollment has increased 20%…[and] the overall school budget hasn’t kept pace with our school-age population.
I am like many other Arlingtonians of my generation. I am in my 70s. My children are grown, and my grandchildren do not attend school here. As a retiree, my income isn’t what it was, and a significant hike in taxes is never a thrill. But I realize that the town needs periodic overrides to continue providing the services that we expect, starting with great schools. And I know that it’s imperative for Arlington’s children, and for the town’s finances, to approve funding for the new high school now.
Despite a modest income, I am willing to pay more to help Arlington provide the school and services it deserves...Just as your taxes have risen, ours have, too. Even so, we enthusiastically support both ballot questions June 11.
I have two daughters in our public schools. If AHS is rebuilt, for part of their high school years they’d benefit from the new building. But even for those of you without kids in our schools, supporting the rebuild is in your interest.
I have lived in Arlington for 24 years. My 3 children have attended Arlington public schools from kindergarten onward. I teach at the Ottoson Middle School. As a teacher, parent, and tax-paying citizen of Arlington, I am excited about the vision and promise embodied in this project.
Arlington has incredible teachers and staff. As parents of students who went through Arlington’s schools, we appreciate the high caliber of education our students received. We’ve also seen the limits to what teachers and staff can do. They can’t fix a broken building. They can’t find money to hire more teachers. They can’t fill a school library with books. We had children attend the old Dallin with a roof that leaked to the point of mold growing in the building and a heater so unreliable that school had to be canceled.
Strong communities are built upon an intergenerational compact. We educate our young, who in turn take their places in society, sharing in the caring for our older neighbors and family members. In calling for a debt exclusion to rebuild the high school and an operating override, the Select Board seeks to balance the needs of our younger and older residents.
I'm a strong supporter of both rebuilding Arlington High School and the operating override on the ballot on June 11. This post is focused on Question 2, the $5.5 million operating override. The operating override is vital for the town to maintain our current level of services, from our public schools to public safety to our town infrastructure, and more.
When I rejoined the Arlington School Committee in 2012, we were finalizing plans to adjust elementary distributions with the opening of our new Thompson School. In six short years, we moved from worrying about filling seats to constructing a dozen new elementary classrooms in East Arlington. It’s not hard to see we are in the midst of a dramatic change, but we need to step back and look at the numbers to truly see the magnitude of the growth in our midst.
The Arlington Public Schools will receive important benefits from the Proposition 2 1/2 operating override, which is on the ballot on June 11, along with the High School project. While Arlington spends less on education than the state average per pupil, our recent enrollment increases have caused us to fall further behind, declining from 97% of the state average in FY2011 to 89% in FY2018. We’ve seen the effects of this in our schools
As Arlington residents consider their choices for the upcoming votes on the Arlington High School project and general operating budget Override, they are faced with a fundamental dilemma. On the one hand, do they trust that those in favor of positive votes are presenting an accurate picture of the current situation, and will do their best to use taxpayer dollars wisely. On the other hand, are they willing to risk the potential consequences to their own interests if they side with those in favor of negative votes.
Please vote YES on June 11th to give our kids a safe high school that will properly prepare them for this 21st century. And I say "21st century" deliberately, in response to some arguments against the rebuild I've been hearing. Here's one: "When I went to Arlington High in the [insert decade here], it was just fine, so why do you need all this money now?" Which is like saying, "When I was in my 20s I was healthy, so why should I go to the doctor in my 70s"?
Our town is known for having good schools. It's why teachers want to teach here, and families want to move here. But the issues are very real. If you are invested in the future of Arlington, I hope you are paying attention…A NO vote means we keep applying band-aids, installing stop-gap measures, and funding short-sighted renovations that will just mean pushing these decisions off on future generations at a higher price tag.