Timur Kaya Yontar: The Best Possible High School for Arlington

Timur Kaya Yontar

Timur Kaya Yontar

I have voted three times for the Arlington High School rebuild. No, this isn’t voter fraud. I voted in favor unanimously with the Capital Planning Committee, again in Town Meeting, and finally with an early absentee ballot.

I urge my fellow townspeople to join me by voting Yes for the AHS debt exclusion on June 11.

In full disclosure, 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.

Our Town’s schools deliver quality education even with lower per-student spend than most neighboring communities. That education has been enhanced by improvements to the learning environment. We now have new or renovated schools for grades K–6: buildings that students, teachers, and staff can attend every day with pride.

Just last year, AHS ranked ninth among Massachusetts high schools despite the challenges of its deteriorating facility. How wonderful it would be if our students, teachers, and staff at AHS enjoyed as beneficial a learning environment as at our elementary schools – one that meets the educational needs of the 21st century – a school all the Town can be proud of.

And how horrible it would be if AHS were not rebuilt but continued to crumble, and our accreditation – already on warning – were revoked: a badge of shame for the Town.

As fans of the musical Evita will recall, “Politics is the art of the possible.” The high school rebuild has been a political process: People aired views, revealed preferences, weighed constraints, and determined what was possible. And they compromised.

No one truly loves a compromise. It would be terrific if the high school could look just as it does today on the outside, be shiny and new on the inside, be completely rebuilt with no disruption to the students, and cost half of the current price tag. Terrific, but not possible.

Through two years of deliberation with Townwide input, the AHS Building Committee arrived at this plan, this best possible compromise, which puts the educational needs of our students first while being vigilant about costs. It has been good, hard, and thankless work, but I thank them. And I thank you for reading this, and ask you to vote Yes and Yes on June 11.

Timur Kaya Yontar
Town Meeting Member, Precinct 7