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A new Northeast Metro Tech School would be expensive, but also would be a bargain that offers significant benefits to Saugus students. Vote “Yes” on Jan. 25

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  Saugus is one of twelve communities in the Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School District that will be voting on whether to approve the District’s borrowing for a new building project on January 25.

  The Northeast Building Committee, in my opinion, has made a good case as to why the project is warranted and why they have chosen the option to build new rather than renovate, as Northeast suffers from most of the same issues that the old Saugus High School did, like failing and outdated HVAC, plumbing, electrical systems, limited handicapped accessibility, energy inefficiency, lack of IT infrastructure and more. The building is outdated and simply worn out.

  The proposed building would offer significant benefits to our Saugus students, including additional capacity and shorter waitlist for Saugus students, improved IEP accommodations, additional technical programs like Biotechnology, Marketing, and Medical Assisting, handicapped accessibility, and a comparable education/environment equality to the new HSMS in Saugus.

  It cannot be denied that the project is expensive, and the process by which it is proposed, considered, and funded is imperfect. While the project is expensive, it is in line with other current High School projects in the MSBA pipeline and enjoys an impressive 76.84% reimbursement rate for eligible costs totaling $140.8M, and as Saugus residents were cautioned in 2017 prior to the HSMS vote, the cost of school building projects continues to rise sharply year over year. According to figures provided by the Saugus HSMS Building Committee and the Northeast Building Committee, the potential tax impact, should a debt exclusion pass, would be less than $150 annually (at peak) for the average assessed single family home value in Saugus, vs $720 annually (at peak) for the new HSMS. While an additional $150 annually is not insignificant and may be out of reach for some, in my opinion it is a relative bargain. The process of voting the approval prior to the funding, one could argue, puts the cart before the horse, and while the process that Saugus used back in 2017 is better for many reasons, it is simply not an option for a Regional school district per MGL I.XII.71.16. So we must vote the approval on Jan 25 before town-by-town funding can be determined.

  Per the MSBA, “a failed local vote likely will result in the school district being required to submit a new Statement of Interest to the MSBA and await a second invitation from the MSBA to enter the feasibility study phase of the MSBA’s process”. This effectively means that the MSBA would pull their $140.8M from the project and use it elsewhere, the project would start again from scratch, delaying it several years, and costs would rise significantly during that time. A YES vote on January 25 is the best approach for Saugus, both economically and educationally.

  In addition to providing a competitive educational environment for our Saugus students, the project would provide 300+ man-years of work for local tradesmen and would have a significant positive impact on our local economy.

  Please join me in supporting our Vocational students by voting YES on Tuesday, January 25.

Chris Riley

7 Oceanview Ave.

Town Meeting Member, Precinct 2

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