My husband and I chose to buy a home in Belmont almost 18 years ago for a few reasons: we liked the small-town feel so close to Boston, where we both worked. We liked the easy access to public transportation and we really liked the high quality of the public schools. Our youngest child will be graduating from Belmont High School next spring and it feels like the time has flown. But time has not been a friend to the school facilities in Belmont. Each and every school is full to bursting and the high school is so crowded that students often can’t even fit into the library or cafeteria when they want to study — or just eat lunch. The high school faces challenges of physical capacity, failing equipment and inefficiencies.
Over the past months, I have toured the high school, attended public meetings and participated in a two-day intensive workshop focused on evaluating the needs of students in Belmont and seeking the best possible solution. The Building Committee has worked extraordinarily hard to include the public in its deliberations, while maintaining a commitment to constructing a no-frills building that delivers the greatest possible value to our school system at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.
I feel confident that the proposal to combine grades 7 through 12 into a common campus will effectively and efficiently solve problems that occur through the entire school system. I don’t know anyone who is excited to pay more taxes but this is a situation that is not going to go away, will cost more if we do not address now and provides significant value for the investment. And although my own children will have been graduated long before this project is completed, I firmly believe this is the right way to preserve the high quality schools that drew us to Belmont in the first place.
I am a Yankee at heart. I don’t make financial decisions lightly. I also know a good deal when I see one and this plan makes sense on many levels. It allows each of our elementary schools to maintain its place as part of the local fabric, without parents having to deliver their children across town. It relieves pressure on the facilities that can’t easily be expanded, including the libraries, gyms, cafeterias and specialized classrooms and it does so for every single one of our schools.
I urge you to join me in voting “yes” on Nov. 6.