Voters endorse new school project

Caroline Richards

Features editor

(April 16, 2015)  The new intermediate school building proposal was sent straight to the ballot during Nantucket’s Annual Town Meeting last week, when voters approved the project with no debate.

The new school building is intended to benefit to all three public schools – the Nantucket Elementary School, Cyrus Peirce Middle School, and the Nantucket High School – by alleviating some of the overcrowding in the lower grades. The final ballot vote on the major project was scheduled for Tuesday of this week – the results coming too late to make it into this edition of Veritas.

Currently there is a lack of classroom space available, especially in the elementary school, as well as limited student and parent resources and room for staff.

The NES school building was initially built for a maximum of 548 students, and now has a current enrollment of over 700 students. At CPS, the building was built for a student and staff population of 198, but now has a current enrollment of over 330 students, and both are growing at a rapid rate, continuously running out of room. The upward enrollment trend included dips every four years or so, as many have noticed, but the net gain over the past 20 years has been significant. It appeared evident to the Superintendent of Schools, Michael Cozort, that the school system needed additional space in order to continue educating the growing number of students.

The estimated price of the new building is now at $46.2 million. The construction and contingencies, which cover 72 percent of the cost, are set at $32,295,246. The tax impact of the borrowing for a $1 million dollar home would be an increase of $170 on their property tax bill every year, or $14.16 per month. The estimate is based off of borrowing at a 5.5 percent rate for the next 20 years.

The building proposal received a unanimous vote at Town Meeting as Article 12, which stated: “To see what sums the Town will vote to appropriate, and also to raise, borrow pursuant to any applicable statute or transfer from available funds, to be spent by the School Superintendent with the approval of the School Committee, to pay costs of professional services for design, permitting, architecture, construction supervision, and other related professional services, for the construction, installation and equipping of new, and/or additions to existing, school buildings, including land acquisition costs and all other costs incidental and related thereto; provided that said borrowing shall be contingent on the passage of a Proposition two and a half debt exclusion vote; and to take any other action related thereto.”

The auditorium last Monday night was tense and full of newcomers as Town Meeting began. When article 12 (the appropriation for the new school building) was called, no comments were made. The vote commenced and not a single person rose to oppose. A great wave of excitement rose up in the school reserved row and all around the auditorium, as people smiled and clapped, happy that their vote had counted toward a new school.

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