I love showing visitors around Belmont. I puff up with pride when they say, “This is your high school? It looks like a small college!” seeing BHS set bucolically behind Clay Pit Pond. From Concord Avenue here’s what they can’t see: At almost 50 years old, our beautiful high school has reached the end of its safe and useful life. You’ve heard the details: asbestos, leaks, regularly backed up plumbing, not designed for modern needs in safety and security, not fully ADA accessible, overcrowded, outdated for modern day teaching practices and programs — not exactly the description of a place parents feel good about sending their children.
At Chenery Middle School, where my daughter is a sixth-grader, there are already six modular classrooms added to a school built just 20 years ago. Is she worried about typical tween issues like her clothes or not having a phone? No. She’s worried about getting to class on time. She must literally run so that she’s not late getting from nonfiction studies in the furthest modular placed on former school play areas to social studies at the opposite end of the school and up the rotunda stairs. Rather than arriving ready to learn, she’s instead catching her breath. And please don’t get me started on her 10:30 a.m. “lunch” time due to overcrowding in the cafeteria.
Down the street at her former elementary school, Burbank now has four modular units to accommodate a K-4 population that is skyrocketing. We were fortunate to walk to Burbank during her five years there. Now, due to overcrowding and reassignment, many families cannot attend their neighborhood school and must drive their children across town if they don’t qualify for bussing, which many do not.
Belmont has many things to offer, but without a capital investment in our public schools now, a best-in-class education will no longer be one of them. That will negatively impact our home values, decrease Belmont’s ability to attract great teachers, and jeopardize a school system that is one of the greatest sources of pride in our town.
The time to address this is now, while we have the generous state grant to supplement our tax dollars. I ask that you join me in voting “yes” on Nov.6 for Belmont, for the new 7-12 school, and for our children.
April Edrington, Elizabeth Road