Our Opinions

Friday, October 25, 2013
By Transcript Staff

VOTE YES FOR NEW SCHOOL: A new middle/high school is needed for the 21st century

It often is said that a community’s values, both literally and figuratively,  may be determined instantly by a snapshot look at that community’s public facilities such as its parks, playgrounds, town hall, schools, and the like.

By that standard, Winthrop measures up well in some respects. For example, we have two new elementary schools, a serviceable police station, and a new town garage.

But in other areas of our infrastructure, we do not fare as well. Most glaringly for example, Miller Field recently was described by a visiting coach as “the worst field I’ve ever seen” and said that it was not safe for his players.

Although our middle school and high school may not fall into the category of”worst ever,” there is no dispute that these facilities have outlived their usefulness. Winthrop High School is approaching 50 years old, about the same age as the old high school it replaced when the current school was built in 1965. The present middle school is of the same vintage. Both were designed to meet the educational needs of schoolchildren of a different age and era that no longer are adequate for our children today.

In addition to falling far short of meeting 21st Century Learning Standards, both schools are in dire need of major repairs that will cost the town’s taxpayers millions of dollars.

We know well that new schools are expensive propositions for a community’s taxpayers, especially in a municipality such as ours where our commercial tax base is negligible. However, not to build new schools is a penny-wise and pound-foolish proposition. The state may not reimburse Winthrop for repairs to schools as old as ours because our children still will be left with outdated facilities. So without state funding, the estimated cost of the renovations to the town’s taxpayers will exceed the cost of a new school (because the state will pay for most of the cost of the new school).

In addition, with new high schools being built in communities all around Winthrop, our property values simply will not keep pace and will fall short of the level they could be at. It is axiomatic that young families looking to buy a home in a community look first and foremost at the quality of the public schools for their children. If the choice is between a town with new schools vs. one with schools that may not receive accreditation, families will be willing to pay more for a home in the former community. It is simple arithmetic to figure out that the added cost of a couple of hundred dollars on one’s tax bill each year is more than outweighed by the increase in property values that a new middle/high school will add to the value of our homes.

Finally, with interest rates still at record lows, this is a propitious time for Winthrop to build a new middle/high school which could disappear if inflation appears or if the world economy begins to improve in the years ahead.

We urge every voter to become informed of all of the facts on this important matter before voting on Election Day. This is a question that not only is about today, but about the future of our community and our children.

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