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Should Saugus build new schools?

An artist’s rendering of a new middle-high school to be built in Saugus.

FILE PHOTO
An artist’s rendering of a new middle-high school to be built in Saugus.

YES: Stephanie Mastrocola

Mastrocola is the president of the Waybright Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization.

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As I walk through the Saugus Public Schools, I see the smiles of so many students. The smiles that pulled me into taking a position on the Parent Teacher Organization. For the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful for the future of my son and all of the children in Saugus.

On Tuesday, June 20, the residents will have a chance to change that future of education in this community. Our goal to achieve Level 1 status is within reach. The high school is at risk of losing its accreditation. As a nurse, I worry about health and safety concerns that affect our kids on a daily basis.

It’s truly disheartening when a student visits another district and sees all of the amenities that they don’t have in Saugus, such as robotics and fab labs, and student-centered and hands-on learning. Our theater students put their heart and soul into their work – don’t they deserve a state-of-the-art stage and black box theater? We don’t have equity. On a recent visit to the schools, I saw a child practicing the saxophone in the cafeteria while a truck was unloading the day’s lunches.

This new plan will dramatically improve the quality of education. It will provide our students with up-to-date learning styles and the tools they need to achieve success in their futures. Most importantly, this will give our children and community a sense of pride.

Traffic on site is a disaster now. A brand-new facility with streamlined drop-offs and adequate parking will only help remedy that.

With the highest-ever bond rating and inflating construction costs, now is a better time than ever to move forward with this solution. The new building and district plan will be a much more cost efficient alternative. This is a no-brainer.

A sense of community is why I moved to Saugus. We have placed Band-Aids on these schools for too long, and as taxpayers we will ultimately lose in the end.

We have to be the voice to fix this for these students and the community. This is not an option anymore, it’s a necessity. We need to stop being OK with OK. We need to vote YES.


NO: Patrick Darrigo

Darrigo is a member of the Highland’s Alliance, a group of residents opposed to Tuesday’s vote.

Vote no on Question 1-2. Why?

I believe that real estate taxes will be increased, traffic congestion within the school property and on public roads will be dramatically increased, student enrollment within one new building will be increased compared to having that same enrollment as currently in two buildings.

Also, in my opinion when comparing the new building with the current two, the new building square footage will be decreased, the number of parking spaces will be decreased, and, in addition and most importantly, safety for students, residents and the public safety for ambulance, police and fire will be decreased.

The design enrollment for the proposed High School/Middle School (HS/MS) project is 1,360 students. The Saugus district’s 2017 enrollment is 660 for middle school and 681 for high school for a total of 1,341 students, which give a difference of only 19 fewer than full capacity for the new school.

The total square footage of the current Saugus High School plus the square footage of the Belmonte Middle School is 353,000 square feet. The square footage of the proposed new Saugus High/Middle School is 271,320 square feet. This will make the new Saugus High/Middle School 81,880 square feet less than both current schools combined.

A comparison from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) for Saugus HS/MS when compared to three other towns in which one had their HS/MS opened this school year and the other two will have their HS/MS opening next school year:

Winthrop HS/MS is 187,917 square feet and cost $81,818,740. The price per square foot was $435.40. Enrollment is 970 students.

Lunenberg HS/MS is 169,018 square feet and cost $72,975,321. The price per square foot was $431.76. Enrollment is 820.

Abington is 235,370 square feet and cost $ 96,400,000. The price per square foot was $409.57. Enrollment is 1,115.

Saugus will be 270,000 square feet. and cost $160,720,553. The price per square foot is $595.26. Enrollment will be 1,360 students.

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