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Norton High Renovation Project – An Opportunity We Can’t Afford to Miss

Project to go before voters this June.

TO THE EDITOR:

It is my hope that at this point most Norton residents are aware of the High School Renovation Project opportunity. If not, now is the time to get informed. If you do, you will quickly and easily see how this project can benefit us all in so many ways. Ensuring this project moves forward is important for all residents, whether you have children in the school system or not.  

It is common knowledge that the is in dire need of improvement. The building is 40 years old and has insufficient space for students and equipment, inefficient heating/electrical systems, outdated science labs, insufficient facilities to support today’s technology–and this list goes on. If you are unfamiliar with the extent to which this building needs attention, you can learn more by visiting the Norton High School Building Committee’s website (www.nhsbuildingproject.org). I found this information to be quite eye-opening. 

I have lived in Norton for more than 15 years and have heard time and time again about the poor condition of our High School. My kids will be attending that school before I know it, and right now, I can’t say I feel good about that prospect at all. As a parent, I want to feel good about where my kids go to school. I want them to take pride in where they are being educated and, most importantly, I want the facility they attend to be able to meet their educational needs. I don’t think that is too much to ask.   

I’m also concerned about Norton being perceived as a town with school facilities that are lacking. It is important for potential residents and businesses to view our town as a favorable place to live, with a strong school system that meets the needs of its residents. This will help provide us a larger tax base and help keep taxes lower for each of us. If you own a home in this town, you’ve made a significant investment in it. You need to protect that investment by doing what makes financial sense for the town and for you and your family. 

The good news is we are currently being presented with the opportunity to address the issues, bring the High School up to modern standards and make it a place we can feel proud about sending our children. And the best news is that we have to the chance to do this at a cost that we cannot deny is an exceptional deal. This project will address the issues with the High School in a way that translates into significant savings for the town. The State (through the Massachusetts School Building Authority) is willing to reimburse the town of Norton for approximately 64% of the cost of this project, which includes bringing the facility up to code and constructing an addition on the building that will provide many benefits to its students. 

If you have not done so already, I encourage you to spend some time visiting the Norton High School Building Committee’s website (www.nhsbuildingproject.org). I found it very helpful and it took only a short amount of time to gain an understanding of why this project is so important, how the issues with the High School will be addressed, and how it will be funded.  

Residents are being asked to vote on a debt exclusion override to fund this project. Of course, the thought of any sort of tax increase is not an easy pill to swallow for any of us–especially in this economy. However, after careful consideration and reviewing the estimated tax impact figures on the project website, I feel that the cost to my household is nominal in relation to what we have to gain, and in relation to what it might cost me in the future if we don’t take advantage of this opportunity. In my mind, passing the debt exclusion at this time is reasonable and absolutely necessary.   

As you review the project information that many dedicated people are working so hard to share with us, consider carefully the fact that, at a minimum, the High School will have to be brought up to code standards at some point. If we miss out on this reimbursement opportunity, we are likely to take a much larger hit in our wallets in the future, and what we would get in return will be far less than this project is currently offering. If we act now, we can get so much more for our dollar, and isn’t that what we are all trying to do every day? 

We are being asked to participate in this process in two ways. We need to attend the Town Meeting on Monday, June 6th where a 2/3 majority vote is required to bring the articles for this project to the ballot. A Special Election will then be held on Saturday, June 11th to vote on the articles.  

As parents, we run ourselves ragged trying to meet the needs of our kids. We shuttle them to and from activities, help them with their schoolwork and fully support them in every way we can to ensure their future success. It’s part of the job and we are happy to do it. I view attending this Town Meeting and Special Election as being no different. I feel I have to do what I have to do to help make this happen because the project makes so much sense. As a parent, I have a responsibility to provide the best educational opportunities for my children, and as a homeowner, I have a vested interest in helping to maintain a favorable image of my town. 

Let’s face it – attending the Town Meeting is probably not going to be fun. It’s going to be inconvenient to find the time, arrange sitters for our kids, difficult to find a parking space, and we’ll probably be there longer than we’d like. But I believe it will be time well spent for the benefit of our children, and to protect the image of our town and our property values.  

So I appeal to you as a parent who wants the best educational opportunities for their children. I appeal to you as a homeowner who wants to protect the reputation of their town and the largest investment they have made. I appeal to you as someone with a conscience about the environment and conserving energy (which is another big benefit of this project). I ask you to not leave these important decisions up to “other” people. It’s very easy to sit back and assume “they” will make things happen if it is meant to be. This project cannot happen without your participation.  

Please get informed, if you are not already. Then grab your relatives, friends and neighbors– every registered voter you know in town--and attend both the Town Meeting on Monday, June 6th and the Special Election on Saturday, June 11th.   Make the decision to vote YES because it makes sense for your CHILDREN, your WALLET, your PROPERTY VALUES, and is simply a SMART BUSINESS DECISION for the town. 

There are groups of people in this town who believe so strongly in this project that they are giving countless hours of their time and personal resources to help educate us about this option, and I feel we owe them a great deal of gratitude. Out of respect for all of that effort, we should take the time to carefully consider the information they are working so hard to provide to us, and then show up on these dates and vote. We cannot afford to miss out on this chance, as it may never come our way again. 

Kathy Marando

Greenfield Circle

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