I am posting this amazing letter that appears in one of our local papers today (Foster's). It was written by a Newmarket tax payer and parent Craig Dionne. He is spot on in all of his statements. As a side note, Craig has since received a private message on Facebook telling him that "calling them out on the BLS example and $79 million bond was unfair." They hate it when they are proved wrong in their lies.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
This letter is in response to a mailer I received from an organization called “Newmarket Citizens for Responsible School Solutions.” The letter, which was sent to most, if not all of the homes in Newmarket, was filled with scare tactics, misinformation and little else.
First off, I am not aware of any group called “New School at Any Cost.” People who are in favor of a new school have been responsible about the financial impact, even asking Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Jim Hayes, to visit and reduce the cost of the plan to make it more attainable and achievable for our small town. As a result, the cost of the facility was reduced by $5 million.
The mailer talks about Boston Latin School (BLS) and how it is considered one of the finest public high schools in the country despite having a building that is over 90 years-old. Through my 20+ years in college admissions, I am well acquainted with BLS so I know how they are so successful.
In the late 1990s, Boston Latin School was in a position to lose their accreditation through the New England Association of Schools in Colleges (NEASC), much like the situation Newmarket is facing today. Also like Newmarket, NEASC’s major concerns at Boston Latin were its inadequate facilities. Rather than risk de-accreditation, the people at Boston Latin spent over $50 million on capital improvements, which is a higher amount than Newmarket is planning on spending on our new school. BLS added a three-story art wing, a new main entrance, a 12,500 square foot library/media center, and a new dining hall, among other improvements. So, thank you for bringing up Boston Latin, as it’s a clear example of the correct way to handle a facility crisis. And, when the facilities were updated, they saw an increase in interest and standardized test scores.
To mention an inaccurate figure of $79 million in bonded debt is completely irresponsible and is a deliberate way to scare those that haven’t been following the school issue. The bonded amount is $45.1 million and no more than that. If you buy a house for $200,000 and finance it for 30 years at 5% you don’t tell everyone you bought a $386,511 house. You bought a $200,000 house. We are not taking out a $79 million bond. We are taking out a $45.1 million bond.
Another point that’s troubling about this letter is that it was not signed, and no one has taken ownership for its contents. It’s the law that any political mailers, signs or other materials need to list the names and addresses of the chairpeople taking responsibility for its content. I will be following this up with the Attorney General’s Office. The vote YES side is playing by the rules. The NO side should do so, as well.
What bothers me the most about this mailer is that the writer or writers state that they know the school needs updating and that they want to bring the school up to current standards. But, they vaguely suggest the need for a solution, and don’t share any concrete ideas for what their proposed solution would be. We have explored and exhausted a variety of options over the past decade. The only viable option is a new school.
The State Fire Marshall tells us our building is not safe. NEASC tells us we will lose accreditation without a new building. NEASC accreditation is critical. Ninety-six percent of all high schools in New England are accredited. Not being accredited will have a harmful effect on our students, our school and our town. The New Hampshire DOE tells us that 90% of our building is not up to current standards. The people of Newmarket have the power to solve these problems. We can build a safe school that’s up to code and meets current standards. We can settle an emotional debate that our town has faced for more than a decade. And, in creating a new, safe, educationally appropriate school, we can also increase our homes’ values, attract new business and new families to our town, and enjoy a variety of other benefits. All we have to do is vote YES on March 11.
WELL DONE CRAIG!!
VOTE YES ON MARCH 11TH!