Swampscott flunks school

SWAMPSCOTT – The proposal for a new, town-wide elementary school was soundly defeated by voters Tuesday, sending supporters of the project back to the drawing board.More than 70 percent of voters rejected the new school, with the unofficial tally at 4,480-1,891.Tuesday?s vote came a month after Town Meeting failed to approve the proposal by a required two-thirds majority. Despite that vote, the non-binding question was put before town voters and appeared on the ballot as Question 5. Had it passed, the matter would have been sent back to Town Meeting.?It?s pretty disappointing,” said Glenn Paster, vice chair of the School Building Committee. “Obviously, the community is not ready for a district-wide school. I wish the next group the best of luck because the elementary schools are in atrocious condition.”Proponents of the new school argued that the town could receive $17 million in funding – approximately one-third of the projected cost – from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.The MSBA approved the proposal for the grade 1-4 school, which would have been built adjacent to the middle school. The Clarke School would have been converted to house pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. The project also called for demolishing the Stanley School and converting the land to athletic fields and playgrounds.But opponents said the new proposed school would not have enough recreational space for either the elementary students or the middle school students (who use that open land for fields), would be overcrowded when it opens, and would take the most obvious spot for a future new middle school.Other concerns included too much traffic congestion in the neighborhood.?The main focus for me is lack of long-range planning and impact on the middle school,” Scott Burke said in explaining his opposition to the project. “I think a more expensive school that is not a flawed project has a better chance of passing than a flawed project.”?I?m proud of the work the School Building Committee did the last four years,” Paster said. “I still think the neighborhood-school model is very difficult to maintain. We need two or three elementary schools and the price is going to be astronomical.”Several area incumbents ran unopposed in Tuesday?s election, while Republican state Rep. Leah Cole of Peabody, a Lynn Tech graduate, was re-elected to the state legislature, defeating Democrat Beverley Griffin Dunne, a longtime Peabody School Committee member, 52 percent to 48.State Sen. Thomas M. McGee, Rep. Lori Ehrlich, Rep. Robert Fennell and state Rep.-elect Brendan Crighton were unopposed, as was Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

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